To bookend my weekend I should have written about my road trip back for Montego Bay to Kingston. It makes sense because I came back on a different route, taking the coast road all the way through Ocho Rios to Port Maria.
Sunday morning started in the middle of Saturday night. My host and I were filled with the glory of being in a team of prize winners in a golf tournament that we entered reluctantly.
Our intention for the weekend, all along, was to watch the celebrities play and support the daughter of a friend, who’s a very good junior player. We saw her do her stuff on Friday, at White Witch, and enjoyed being in the rarefied swirl of the celebs. Truth was, though, that not many celebs were there. Still, we took advantage of the walk around White Witch. We enjoyed the promotional non-alcoholic refreshments, and a very nice buffet of slider burgers, and some hand-made popsicles. It was hot and thirsty work being a sports fan 🙂
The Friday evening involved a swanky fashion show. We had neither swank nor fashionista aspirations, so we passed on that. We cooled out and checked out the many good quality golf balls we’d found in the rough areas of the golf course. Golf stories rarely start “I hit my shot into the bushes and never found it…” Jamaica is a place where many people make a tidy living scouring the bushes on golf courses so that they can rent balls back to golfers. This course doesn’t allow that, so golfers can get lucky and find for themselves.
Saturday began with our minds still set on watching. The number of players was much larger and the atmosphere was lively. One of the organizers asked if we wanted to play, but we were blunt in saying the fee was too much. End of story. Well, not quite. Incentives came into play. The young lady asked what fee would be acceptable. We told her a figure about 40 percent lower. She went away and soon came back to say we could play for a little more than that. However, we would not be able to attend the fashion gala afterwards. We were devastated but accepted. 😩
We then hustled to get our clubs and shoes. By the time we did all that, the organizers had found a fourth member for the team, a visiting Canadian, who lives in Jamaica during winter months–a snow bird. Off we went, like some of Snow White’s dwarfs. We were in good mood and with no expectations.
Well, we got to know ‘Mike’ from Canada, who happens to run a golf course near Toronto, which is now closed for winter. He was staying in Clarendon. He was using a set of borrowed clubs and the driver was not working for him. I happen to carry a spare in my bag, so offered him that. Mike found his game “High ho…”
We started well and kept playing well, loosened up by our lack of care. The team format meant playing the best position shot each hole. We had two good players in my friends, me with my high handicap but very decent putting and mostly good straight tee shots. We had to use at least three shots from each player. We thought about how that should work and managed it to get the best from the long hitters. I did my bit with some important putts and a great tee shot on an uphill par three hole. We started to think about what score could put us into the reckoning; at least seven under was needed. We needed to start hitting birdies. We hit three on our first seven holes. Then, boom! We got lucky with a long par 5 hole, hitting a second shot that got a kick left to save it heading right into the bushes. The ball was about 15 feet from the hole, just off the green. I sank the putt. Pandemonium! High fives and whooping. It just happened by the Rasta who had sold me balls the week before, and I was using one of them. “Is a lucky ball, Daddy,” he shouted as I pointed to ball. All happy.
We rolled on. Playing really well, except on one tricky green, then capped it with one really good tee shot about two feet from the flag. Birdie! The group ahead of us were also whooping, so we knew things would be close. When we got to our last hole, a 500 yard par 5, we knew we were in good shape. It’s a hole where the second shot is over a ravine. I showed Mike the safe line and he hit a nice tee shot, so did my doctor friend, so did I. Three balls safe for good second shots. Our fourth player is a long hitter and he let rip. The ball soared left and then turned right, headed for the ravine, but it dropped on the hillside and rolled down safe. We decided to take it, even though it was in fluffy grass, as it left us about 215 yards. Our long hitter hit, and the ball caught in the grass, and hit the ravine, just 15 yards in front. The doc hit and the ball looked good, landing to the right of the flag, but off the green. Mike hit…ravine again. I hit, and my ball was heading to the left of the flag, but caught a bunker just short of the green.
We moved up. The ball sat in almost the same position as when we had made three on another par 5. I putted, just off the right. Up stepped long hitter. He putted, the ball looked good, looked better, looked dead right. Oh, yeah! We’d scored 62, 10 under par. Hugs and smiles as we rolled into the club area. Time for lunch and banter.
I won’t go into the rest too much. At first, we were placed third, but we are sharp and we checked the handicaps, finding that two were wrong. We got that corrected, and that put us tied for first place on adjusted score. We were second on gross score. First prize was a trip to Barbados, we heard. It was not for us. But, we got a gourmet chef dinner at home for eight people. Sounds good. Our long hitter won the closest to the pin prize. His daughter won prizes for her play on Friday. We were very pleased.
Father and daughter decided to head back to Kingston in the mid-afternoon, and gave a ride to one of our hard-working pros, who also coaches. Their lives are not like on the PGA, with private jets and swanky hotels, but on buses and spending nights with friends.
I stayed over, in part because my doctor friend was home alone. His wife was away, helping their children set up in a new home. His son is trying to qualify as a professional golfer. They had started playing at the same time, so life on the course has been full.
So, back to Saturday night. We chilled out in the afternoon, catching up on the day’s football, tennis, and golf. I planned to leave early Sunday morning. The doctor had a game scheduled, so was cooking his dinner, so he would have it ready for after his round. We laughed and joked about our day. Then, bed. I read for a while. I have no idea what the time was, but I heard the alarm go off. I lay in bed, listening; no sounds, no movement. I dozed off. I heard the alarm go off again. Same routine. The doc had told me that cats sometimes triggered the system. I went back to sleep. When I got up around sunrise, I exercised and then checked messages. “Officers are here…” I read, in a text message from the doc just after midnight. He explained that the police had come and found no problem, but wanted to make sure I was calm. I was very calm…asleep. We laughed off the non-event.
I grabbed my things and packed to leave, taking for breakfast a little of his dinner. The rain was pounding, so I planned to stay steady with the speed. The roads were clear and I found that I was making good time. I decided to avoid the highway, with its steep downhill stretch, because of the rain. I love the alternative route, through the countryside of western St. Mary. I was happy to take that. I saw hardly a car the whole way, and was home well within three hours. My family was still in bed, when I got home. It was Sunday, after all. I unloaded my things and just crashed. That was how I spent the rest of the day.
There’s a very calming aspect to Jamaican rural life. You feel it driving through the countryside and it stays with you while you’re out of the city. It’s nice to bring it home, along with a hand of bananas, or foot of yam, or sticks of sugar cane. It’s not often sampled by our foreign visitors. Poor them. Lucky us.