So my new pasttime in Jakarta is golf. Although I have owned golf clubs for all of my married life I have never played a lot nor am I any good. I have some good rounds and good shots and can occasionally putt pretty well but the only consistancy in my game is that my drive will be to the right….far to right. In fact I think if I lined up my drive towards to the left out-of-bounds you can bet quite safely that it would still end up on the right.
I have heard that if you want to learn to play golf, Jakarta is a great place. There are many golf courses and especially during the week the green fees are quite reasonable. I think all courses require caddies. (So far that is our experience anyway.) My friend, Princess Mani, is a good golfer and has been looking to get several women together to golf regularly. The Jamu Princess began taking lessons and so was willing to give it a go. I was game even though I am not very good. I am hoping to maybe get some lessons in if I can find a coach that is close by and improve my game to the point that I can play golf with Scott.
A little aside: In all the time I have been golfing (20+ years) not too much exciting or unusual has happened. Prior to coming to Jakarta my best golf story was from Mississippi where there were alligators on parts of the course and some very drunk but knowledgeable men energetically convinced me to not go after my ball that turned out to be 10 yards from one of the gators. (On second thought that is an awesome story and trumps all but my final story in this post.)
Three weeks ago the ladies arranged a golf outing west of town. It was supposed to be a good course but not too challenging. The most noted hole on the course is called the Madonna because of its layout. You are supposed to hit in the cleavage or towards the left boob. It was hard not to laugh while playing that hole!.
We had a fourth woman join us and started around 10:00 am for 18 holes of golf. The caddies at this course were female and mine was quite sweet. We decided to walk the course to give ourselves more exercise and set off with our caddies pulling our clubs. It all seemed quite straight forward. I had started out that morning with only thoughts of mosquitos and had quite liberally lathered on bug spray. However, I neglected to remember sunscreen which ended up being my downfall. Even my umbrella was no use against the sun. The backs of my legs, arms, and the front of my chest soon were bright red. Of course my face was too but not so much from the sun but the heat!
In contrast our caddies had long pants, long-sleeved sweaters and light winter mittens! Unusually for mid week the course was quite crowded and we had to let several groups play through. After 9 holes (and 3 hours) I could practically hear the sizzle of skin and gracefully bowed out.
Two weeks ago we decided to try again. This time it was just Princess Mani, the Jamu Princess and I. We chose a different course that is near a military base. It was about an hour away and so for fear of traffic I left quite early and was rushing to get out of the house. (I did remember both sunscreen and bug spray this time.) Of course I ended up to be quite a bit early but chatted with my driver until P. Mani showed up. We went to the locker room to get ready and I pulled out my shoes only to realize they were Scott’s! (Times like this you hope no one notices and you can play it off without embarassment but my new friends are not letting me off the hook so easy. “I do not think those are your shoes!” was P. Mani’s comment. Haha!) As luck would have it I had worn my Sperry’s to the course so I was still able to golf.
I planned on getting a cart this time but that was not an option. This course had guy caddies. Fortunately for us the course was quite empty which meant there was no one behind us to hurry us along. An overcast sky kept us cooler and halfway through the front 9 we had rain showers. They were not too bad so after a short break we were back on the course. A few holes later there was lightening and a quick downpour had us once more running for shelter. The caddies gave us the option to skip a few holes and play out the 18th and head to the clubhouse or wait it out. We waited. In the meantime one of the caddies caught a small bird. P. Mani told him to put it down (her Bahasa Indonesia is pretty good) but he took it behind a tree. We hope he was just putting it in the branches but I fear it was worse and that he either killed it or yikes, ate it! The other caddy slept through this and woke up when we decided that the rain had stopped enough to continue.
It wasn’t much longer before we had the umbrellas out again, this time for the sun. I think Jakarta weather is like Houston, if you don’t like it….wait a minute. We were trying to hurry because I was supposed to get home with enough time for the driver to get Scott from the airport. (In the end the rain and potential flooding had us go straight to the airport to pick him up.) Sensing our increased tempo my caddy began to have me play “T-ball golf.” I would set up for a shot, he would tell me where to move my body or feet, he would turn the head of my club, adjust the shaft of the club and when he was satisfied, he would tell me to swing. I played some of the best golf I have in my life!! I did get a little better and by the end not all of my shots were T-ball shots. This is probably the reason so many former expats claim they can’t golf when they return to the States!
Encouraged by all this golfing Scott and I accepted an invitation this past weekend to golf with his co-worker T-Bo to celebrate his birthday.
P. Mani and her husband are old friends of T-Bo’s and so she joined us since her husband was out of town. T-Bo picked Royale Jakarta Golf Course which he and Scott have played before and the four of us were scheduled for a 1:00 tee time. The course had a tournament in the morning so it was the first time available. We had a bit of a late start (thanks to Jakarta traffic) but this time we had carts and figured we could still get in 18 holes.
My golfing only slowed us down a little at the beginning and with no one behind us the pressure was off. Towards the end of the first hole we were near the entrance road when a convoy of police cars with lights flashing came by. I asked my caddy who it was (practicing what I learned the week before in my bahasa lesson) and she said it was the President…like in the President of Indonesia! Luckily P. Mani has better bahasa and asked the other girls why he was there. Yep, you guessed it, he came to golf! He was starting on the South course and going to the West. We were on the West and going to the South. No problems. As we finished our first 9 he was getting close to finishing his first 9 so they diverted us to the North course. We could see his security people lining the holes ahead of him as he approached the turn. A couple holes into the back 9 on the North course the Marshal asked us to speed up. Apparently the President decided to play the North course and was a couple holes behind us with one group in between. (I am thinking he may be stalking me. After all, he showed up at my hotel when we were there and now the same course….maybe I should just get a photo with him and sign an autograph and he will stop following me!)
We kindly told them he could play through and stopped to get some water at a snack stand. Initially his security said okay. The group in between were moved to another course or left and as we waited and our caddies fixed their makeup some of the
bodyguards decided we were too close to the course for their liking. I think the choice was to have us hide behind the building or skip a hole and get a couple ahead of him again. So off we went and got to tee off across the water from where he was finishing up on the green. The caddies told us we all got par on the hole we skipped. It was a Presidential Par (kind of like a presidential pardon) but I will take par any way I can. Unfortunately all the standing around took too much time and we ended up calling the game because of darkness. The President also ended early at call to prayer because they had to go pray. You have to admire a guy that walks off the course to pray. At least he has his priorities right.
So I await my next golf outing to see what else will happen. I am not sure I am getting better but I sure am getting addicted to a game that is so unpredictable!