I come from a family of golfers. When my parents were in high school, they used to go on golf dates together. Actually, they still do. When they still lived in Iowa, my dad would play nine holes every day before work in the summer. My mom played in a league. Both of their parents golfed, and my grandfathers still do. I have an uncle who spends all summer long on the golf course and once managed a hole-in-one. My aunt, his wife, also golfs but never uses an electric cart; she prefers to run between the holes rolling her clubs behind her. Even my brother once played on a golf team in high school.
I do not golf. I tried it a couple times in Iowa. I enjoyed being outside for a few hours and visiting with my parents and aunt and uncle, but I did not enjoy the game. I enjoy activity. Golf is not activity. Why participate in a sport that will not cause you to break a sweat? Plus, unlike many other sports, it’s not one that you can just “pick up”. A beginner at golf is just an awkward idiot, holding everyone else up by chasing a little ball every which way across a field of neatly trimmed grass. And you pay a lot of money for the privilege without even the benefit of getting your heart rate up.
All that said, I went golfing on Saturday. And I loved it and plan to go back frequently.
Why the change in attitude? Actually I still agree with all of the above, in the context of the US. In the States, if I’m going to spend money on a sport, I’d rather spend it at a climbing gym. If I’m going to do an outdoor activity, I’d rather go for a trail run or a bike ride. Both free, get my heart rate up, and give me some sense of accomplishment because I know I can control the direction I’m going.
The context of Beira changes everything. There is very little do to here, period. The weather is cool enough to be outside now, but there are so few places to be outside. I don’t own a bike. I can run and walk for exercise, but neither of those are particularly beautiful or enjoyable when I’m being honked at and hissed at. (Although for some reason I get much less hassle running than walking.) Plus, I can play a round of golf, including renting equipment, and hiring a caddy who’ll give pointers, for about $8. I’ve been wanting to try this for awhile, and finally on Saturday a friend and I went out.
The course is not the beautifully-maintained course one would find elsewhere in the world. The grass is prickly and dry and sparse in areas. A ball doesn’t roll very well on the greens. In many of the rough areas, there are golfball-size crab holes, so you can imagine the danger of hitting a ball there. And while the course is considerably cleaner than any other place I’ve been in Beira, there were still bits of rubbish strewn across certain parts, making it difficult sometimes to find a ball when a bit of white paper or plastic bag looks similar.
On one side of the course is a shanty-town. From there we heard music playing from stereos and drums drumming. One group of children played soccer on a section of fairway near their houses while another curious group watched us then scattered when we walked past. Apart from those children and one caddy playing his own round, my partner, our caddy, and I were the only people walking the course. I realized it was the first time I had been in clean, green, open space in Mozambique. I also realized it was the first time I wasn’t keeping close track of my belongings or worrying about anyone hassling me for money or because I’m a white woman. It was a very freeing couple hours.
Because we ran out of daylight, we only played seven holes. I managed to play about eight strokes per hole, which led to my goal of hitting at least one hole in under seven. (Did I mention it’s not a game one just “picks up”?) I did manage to play one hole in one over par. Considering my partner was at about the same level as me and we were the only ones on the course, it was totally fine that we sucked. I also know I can afford to improve and will probably start working on that next week.