Golf, the game that drives us to drink

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They say you shouldn’t drink and drive, and for good reason. Golf is a hard enough endeavour without being under the influence, so to speak. Someone clearly forgot to tell the lot at City Couriers, or the lot up the road at Gowrie Farm.

As corporate golf days go, City Couriers’ offering at Royal Durban this week was dangerously drunken. Everywhere you looked, there was a shooter, served by a demanding hostess. For some humble golfers, the temptation got too much, and by the time they reached the showers, they were serenading anyone within earshot with an O Sole Mio rendition that would have made Pavarotti purr.

Others went one further, losing inhibition and their clothes as the deadly combination of too much sun and milky liqueurs took them back to childhood.

If this sounds like a complaint, it is not. It was epically entertaining, and only the most focused of fourballs managed to keep their eye on the proverbial ball.

The golf “clinic” that followed was just as enthralling, with the great man himself, Madiba, the peerless Peter de Villiers, and even a bunny-chow entrepreneur from Stanger made an appearance.

I can barely remember my own fourball, though I recall an Englishman who flirted with everything that looked his way, and a “Riaan” who went into a ditch looking for a stray ball, and came back holding a muddy purse, but sadly no ball.

If that all doesn’t make sense, blame it on the Jagermeister. Details tend to get fuzzy once shooters outnumber pars, and thank heavens that the hosts had the good sense to have a fleet of Buddy Busses on hand.

As for the folk at Gowrie Farm, where the weather is genuinely Scottish at this time of year, they always mark the Open Championship week with the Old Tom Morris Cup.

The mist rolls over, the fire crackles and when the bag-pipes pop up, you could easily think you have been whisked off on a drunken carriage to a wee town in Scotland.

And just like the Scots, the glasses are never far from overflowing with the fiery nectar that warms the cockles – and turns the next day’s first putt into a proverbial lottery.

To make matters worse, the format of Old Tom’s team contest includes fourballs, foursomes and then singles, played at Gowrie, and down the road at Bosch Hoek.

Depending on the number of drinks guzzled the previous night, one can very quickly lose friends with stray drives – and the odd freshie – that puts untold pressures on the already pounding heads of partners.

But, it’s all in good spirits – and mixers, of course – and contestants flock in from as far as Gauteng and Cape Town to make a real occasion of it. The camaraderie of the event is also a reminder of golf’s enduring ability to connect people.

When you are standing over that little white ball, with a solitary point on the line, it doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO, a lawyer or a farmer. The legs turn to jelly, and the hands freeze stiffer than a triple scotch.

The Scots may be one of the most derided nations, but they have blessed the world with two fundamental sources of fun: golf and whisky.

They are potent peas in a pod, and the longer you endure with one, the more you need the other. And funnily enough, both are up only when you get to the bottom of the cup… – Sunday Tribune


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