Home > Places > Swinging with the rich… and a few wannabes

Swinging with the rich… and a few wannabes

Last week I got season tickets to the Kenya Golf Open.  I was not there because I possess a heck of a swing, I was there to work. The event was taking place at the prestigious Muthaiga Golf Club.  This is the place where prominent and wealthy Kenyans go to unwind. The course itself is picturesque. It is beautifully contoured and the green patches make it scenic. The landscape is accentuated by the presence of ponds. I guess that’s where affluent ducks go for a swim on weekends.

Then there’s the clubhouse. Not just anyone would go in there. To get into the clubhouse you needed to have a VIP tag. There’s food, drinks and snacks being sold inside. But even a VIP tag and your lousy money won’t buy you any sandwiches. You ought to have a card before buying anything in there. In the Clubhouse you speak to a waiter in Swahili and he replies in British English.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the guards are under strict instructions to turn back proboxes and all other vehicles that don’t look like BMWs, Mercs and fuel guzzling SUVs. The cars in the parking lot would make you drool. I’m sure those participants that flew in for the event are still wondering why Kenya is regarded as a third world country.

On Friday morning I had some errands to run in town and on my way to Muthaiga I got into one of those matatus that head to Kiambu. On informing the conductor to drop me at Muthaiga Golf Club, he mocked me and said, “Boss huko watu hawaendangii na mguu,” People in the matatu laughed. I waited for the dust to settle and replied, “wauziacha tao ama?” Non-Swahili speakers, I’m sorry that’s one of the jokes that just can’t be translated.

Funny thing is that I lost a phone at Muthaiga Golf Club! Worst part is that it was a cheap ass phone that only sees the light of day when I need go get cash from M-Pesa. My salary had delayed but I still had an unfading smile on me since I thought I had a fall-back plan. Shock on me (and the M-Pesa agent who had to deal with my curses). Clearly I was not the only hustler to have graced the event.

Back to golf. I observed that golfers don’t carry their own equipment. Each golfer has a guy following closely behind him carrying this huge bag on his back that contains different kinds of golf clubs, gloves, towels, hats, umbrellas and God knows what else. The sophisticated ones have trolleys while the more sophisticated ones have golf carts. You would imagine that having to follow your ‘master’ the whole damn day would be somewhat displeasing, but the smile and bounce on these caddies tell another story. I was tempted to stop one and ask him how much he earns just to see if I need to reconsider career.

I have to admit that I know my golf just as well as I know my astronomy.  I’ve never had any interest in the game. I hear folks saying they’ll be teeing off over the weekend and I assume they’re planning on spending their weekend on the verandah just sipping on hot tea. I used to giggle whenever I heard folks talking about ‘hole-in-one’. Until last week, I thought it was something to do with a one night stand or chips funga (you wouldn’t really blame me, Tiger woods… hole-in-one… get it?)

So here I was amidst the elite trying to understand what the hyped sport is really about. I figured asking questions there would be like going to Nyayo stadium for a Gor vs AFC match and asking what a red card means. I therefore got onto Google for some answers. Reading the rules got me yawning so I won’t bore you with that. But here are some important rules worth mentioning: While on the course, you are not allowed to use your phone (can’t wait for Monday I tell my boss why I wouldn’t pick up his calls); you are not allowed to wander aimlessly (if that golf ball happens to fall on your head you will put yourself in an ambulance and drive yourself to hospital); you are not supposed to make any noise that would distract a golfer (all you fart-freaks out there keep off golf courses). You breach any of these rules and you’ll be fined straight to Eastlands.

I’ve always assumed golf is an easy game. I mean after slashing grass for years in high school, how hard would hitting a golf ball be? But after watching the pros do it, I realized you would have to be one of Tiger Woods bastards to be a pro without much practice. There is a good chance of driving that ball right into the spectators if you are an amateur. That’s if you manage to get it off the tee.

Golf spectators don’t cheer like rugby folks do. In rugby when the fly half is about to take a conversion, supporters of the opposing team will jeer and scream like sorcerers in a bid to distract the player. In golf it’s the opposite. When a golfer is about to tee-off, an official lifts a board with the word ‘silence’ written on it and everyone obeys. Spectators will clap if the golfer sinks the ball, or exclaim sympathetically if he misses. So you can imagine my surprise when my friend Ellen shouted and jumped up and down out of excitement after a ball went into the hole. Christine and I had to cover our faces.

Golf is all about accuracy. Experience is key if you want to be a pro. You are your own captain on the course. Unlike many sports you cannot just hang around and wait for the star of your team to do the job. There’s no Van Persie in golf. You clutch that golf club and all eyes are suddenly fixed on you. It’s a tense moment.  The pin-drop silence makes it even worse. If you drive that ball into the forest (or even worse, into the water), people will whisper words of ridicule and derision. That’s what made me fall in love with the sport. I can imagine that rush that goes with that level of control.

The finals were taking place on Sunday. By then I had taken significant interest in the game. Some golf jargon would still fly past my ears but I tried to catch up thanks to google and my amazing eavesdropping prowess. Once in a while a spectator would turn to me and say something in golf language and I would chuckle and mumble something inaudible. I was determined not to give away my naiveté.

A Briton named Seve Benson won the tournament and I was embarrassed on behalf of all those folks that walk with their noses pointed at the sky because they play their golf at Muthaiga Club.

The President was present at the finals. Men in black were all over the place ensuring no rebel tried to take a swing at the president’s head. The authority and respect his security detail commands is intimidating. Every G4S security guy wishes he grows up to be like these suited folks. You could tell they felt like little virgin boys around their suited counterparts.

After the games some sponsors offered drinks to guests. If there’s one thing that Kenyans love more than drinks, it’s FREE drinks. In fact if this post turns out to be remotely interesting, it’s because I talked about free drinks. A Kenyan would rather spend 2K on fuel to go to a place that has free drinks than spend 1K at his local. Whether it’s a Monday, a Friday, or a Sunday, as long as there’s drinks on the house, people will always turn up. We had fun. As I write this, it’s Sunday night. I am a few Lite bottles away from my mind (get it? Light years… light bottles… I think that’s genius). I am having fun. Some lines I’ve typed got me giggling. In case you read through and nothing makes sense, just know that it sounded funny in my clouded mind. And your mind is boring.

PS: I wish you all a Happy Easter. I know for most middle class Kenyans it’s either Nakuru or Mombasa. Let’s party hard. You rich Muthaiga people that have had travel agencies book you into elegant, secluded lodges; I hope you get bored out of your designer socks. I have one or two avid fans that would want to see my head on a platter if they came here on a Monday and did not find a post. Be forewarned guys: If you come here next Monday and there’s no post, just know that my mind was willing but my body was weak.

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  1. Mercy
    April 2, 2012 at 8:28 am

    My mind isnt boring…thats for sure :-)! Im still on the part where u lost your phone..i was so close 2 dialling your no. n pass my condolences then i got to the ‘it was a cheap ass…” part…phew! I know zero about golf so il shush now

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Mercy, you bet if it were my main phone even the President would have to show me his pockets.

  2. No 1 fan
    April 2, 2012 at 8:41 am

    mhhhh —-well you picked MY calls…..and i know ur boss 🙂

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:11 am

      I’ve printed the rules and guidelines of golf so bring it on fan. Your word against my rules.

  3. Sikalili
    April 2, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Good read as always great way to start the week 🙂

  4. thatguy
    April 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

    wauziacha tao ama……lol. apewe dawa, fala yeye! He had coming like that woman the other kwa jav as we headed to our mansions after a long ass day in the office. I know i will hear more stories “off chat” off camera”…..light bottles….get it!

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

      I don’t know why these people keep asking for it…

  5. April 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Hehehehe….interesting comparison re G4S and the suited guys. Happy Easter!

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Hehe thanks. Happy Easter to you too.

  6. Anonymous
    April 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    “Once in a while a spectator would turn to me and say something in golf language and I would chuckle and mumble something inaudible. I was determined not to give away my naiveté.” Hehehehe hii part ni noma

  7. Goon
    April 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    my amazing eavesdropping prowess…….It now makes alot of sense

    • April 3, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Goon, compared to you, I’m still a novice in that sector.

  8. Linda
    April 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Do fart-freaks really exist….? lolest. If your mind is clouded enough to come up with something like that….

  9. Liberty
    August 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Hehehehehehe dude you’re hilarious:):)

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