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30 August 2007
 

GUILT AND THE GOLF GAME IN JAPAN

I wake up at 6 am. I am psyched up for a great day of golf. My wife and kids are still sound asleep. I make my breakfast. Yes, no nato for me. I take out my frozen two liter Aquarius bottle from the freezer. Bugs Bunny's Foghorn Leghorn's advice to the young chicken hawk, rings in my head, "Keep your eye on the ball. Eye..Ball ..Eyeball. It's a joke son, yur supposed to laugh." I start singing some 70's tune at the top of my lungs. Just as I am about to escape from my family, the ancient "genkan" sliding door jams, shaking the whole Japanese style house. I hear the scampering footsteps of my young kids coming down stairs. Then the slow pounding footsteps of my wife's, sending chills down my spine. I still haven't mowed the lawn or separated the burnables from the not-burnables, the pet bottles from the beer bottles, the green saki bottles from the brown saki bottles, the cup ramen Styrofoam from the cardboard beer cases, shall I continue? Let's just say that I am The Benedict Arnold (a trader for you non Americans) of family chores. Trading in my duties for a chance to hit a giant white gallstone into a tin cup hole in the ground.

My wife's eyes are burning holes in my perfectly pressed pink Lacoste golf shirt. My kids are grabbing both my legs, the youngest one's trying to crawl into the side pouch of my golf bag. "Don't go Daddy! Don't go!" My kids beg for my attention. I look at my watch. One hour till tee time. I need to warm up of course. I finally get into my car. The faces on my children remind me of Ricky Schroder's face when John Voight dies in The Champ. My wife knows that I owe her one. She grins as she runs every which way to stop my traumatized children from running out onto the busy street.

Guilt and the Golf game

I arrive at the course minutes before tee time. The receiving staff, all say good morning to me. They get my clubs out of my trunk with the efficiency of a formula one pit crew. My littlest child's Rika Chan doll falls out of my unzipped side pocket followed by 30 golf balls. They bounce down the entrance way, as if they were salmon spawning up a river. The staff apologize profusely and now realize that my youngest child will be miserable for the whole day without her prize possession Rika chan.

I meet my friends on the tee. I go on to draw the honor to drive first. I try to relax.

"Soft hands. Soft hands. Visualize"

A vibration in my leg begins followed by "Daddy telephone! Daddy telephone!" It progresses faster and faster followed by Daddy? Hey Daddy! The rest of my foursome look at each other as I try to ignore the cries of a desperate child. The screams finally end. I giggle and look at my buddies and then shrug my shoulders and say, "What was that?" It starts again "Daddy telephone! Daddy telephone!" OK it's my K-Tai cellphone.
With my own personal ring tone of my adorable kids voices. I put down my club.
" Chotto matte"
"Moshi moshi. Hai. Yup. I have your doll. Sorry! It must have fallen into my bag when···.. Hi Mom, OK bread and milk··· OK. Bye. Bye. Wha···. Oh yes I know···I can't really talk now···" A mumbled whisper "I love you too···"
"Sumimasen." (excuse me) I am now in shame. Shunned by my peers, banished to be an assistant English teacher in a small rural village on one of the disputed islands with Russia. No Western toilets or internet.

"Soft hands. Soft hands. Visualize. Eye. Ball. Eyeball."

All I can see are my kids reflections on my 480 cc oversized driver head. "Daddy come home! Come home!" So, before I can think, The ball goes directly straight up "Tempura! Fahhh! And ridiculously left "AH OB DA!" (Tempura rises quickly to the top when it is cooked in oil.) My Japanese buddies break out laughing as I look on in horror. I think to myself, as my face begins to turn Ripe Summer Tomato Red, "I must not show my true emotions I must not let them know how I really feel." I break out laughing and say to my friends and the group waiting behind us and the caddie and grounds keepers and the whole staff who have gathered to see this wacky looking foreigner wearing disco ball like polka dot pants. " a.. Mori no naka kinogari ni ikko?" ("Let's go mushroom hunting in the forest.") They all break out laughing! I am released of shame.

So, I am hitting 4 from a set of yellow tees 300 yards away in the middle of the fairway. That's what they do here to speed up the game. I guess.

After a few more holes of playing guilt ridden golf, we stop off at a canteen and order up 4 mini umeshus (a Japanese spirit with a pickled plum in it) and guzzle them back. Some golfers play better after a drink, others just become spastic spaghetti noodles. Our foursome becomes an overcooked Pasta Primavera. A Dufferingu (duff) on the sixth... A chippingu (duck hook) on the seventh.... Apparently, the seven tile (chippingu) in mahjongg looks like a hook. I end this front nine with an ikepocha (ike means lake and pocha is the sound a ball makes when it hits the water. POCHAAA!)
Lunch time! At 1030 am.

We all calculate our scores in a haunting silence. I look up and tell my friends. Well, I just tied my best score... Pause... When I was in grade 6! The three Japanese guys look at each other and say, DOSOKAI! NEXT WEEK! Japan is big on school reunions. My wife always seems to be going to one. Elementary, Junior High, High School, University... They break into a spirited Japanese conversation and I quickly lose what they are talking about. I sit there pretending to understand. Then four huge draft beers arrive at our table. (dai jokkie) After an hour of drinking and eating from the all you can eat buffet our names are announced over the loud speaker. We practically roll out of the clubhouse to the tenth tee to see a line up of carts behind us waiting to play. Again we are shamed. I have the honors because of my double bogey ikepocha.

"Soft hands. Soft hands. Visualize. Eye. Ball. Eyeball."

Without a capable, reasonable thought in my mind I drive the ball 360 yards straight down the fairway. The angry foursome behind us and my fellow players jaws drop to their flashy belt buckles. "Kyoichi" I have been pardoned of all my golf faux pas.
Kyoichi = Best shot of the day

Eagle birdie birdie par birdie birdie par -6

The seventeenth hole is a simple 137 yard par three. My buddies have essentially become spectators. Their beer filled lunch eliminated any skill they had whatsoever before. While I was transformed into drunk master golfer. I was introduced to a new golf term in Japanese during this run to glory.

Zekochou! = In the zone or on ones game

I take out my pitching wedge and old Topflite from the seventies. I start singing Oh! What a night! By Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons ...step up to my ball ...Then, the beginning of the end began. My leg starts vibrating, The screams of my children return "Daddy telephone! Daddy telephone!"
Shank! OB! Hitting three yellow tees

I laugh it off. Worse case scenario triple bogey. Heck I am six under, I can tell my grand kids about a 33. That thought process, coupled with my guilt for not answering my phone, is a recipe for disaster. Ask Phil Mickelson at last years US open. I pull out my 60 degree wedge. Easy pop and drop shot, one putt ...double bogey.

"Daddy telephone! Daddy telephone!" I forgot to put my phone on manner mode. In my back swing, I say to myself in vain. "Stop! Stop! I lift my head and take my eye off the ball. I skull it forty yards over the green, it ricochets off a tree and the ball washer on the eighteenth tee and lands right behind a pine tree twenty yards behind the yellow OB tees. My phone is still ringing. I answer it as if it is a stalker. "What?"
"Daddy?"

"What do you want?" I mean. "Hi sweetie."

"Don't forget my doll." She said in that sweet 4 year old voice.

My buddies are laughing uncontrollably.

I decide to play left handed, if I hit it hard enough it will worm burn its way to the green. I gather my composure and repeat my mantra.

"Soft hands. Soft hands. Visualize. Eye. Ball. Eyeball."

I bring the club back as if I am wielding an ax like Christian Bale in American Psycho. I completely whiff the ball. (Baru Dama) The shaft rebounds off the tree trunk and the club head hits me smack dab in the middle of my inflated forehead.
I wake up at 6 am.

What a dream! I am psyched up for a great day of golf. But···. Before that, I take the recycling to the depot, mow the lawn and pick some flowers for my wife. My kids come running down the stairs.

Daddy! Daddy! Have fun playing golf. Bye! Bye!

A guilt free day of golf

Willy Badger, 30 August 2007

About Willy
Willy has been living in Japan for 12 years. He is a "Daidogei" comic juggler living in Gunma, Japan. In 2008, Willy's mission is to introduce golfers to the beautiful Hot Springs & Outdoor Activities of Gunma. Recently, Willy became director of Sports Management Worldwide Japan, an athlete management company and online education University with offices in America, India and the U.K.

Check out Willy's sports blog The Rising Score!
smwwjapan.wordpress.com
Gunma C.C.
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Previous Columns
  • The Bell Canadian Open
  • Curse of the Claret Jug

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