No, you can’t tee off with the temples in the background,” the guide tells the superb golfer plaintively.
“No, you can’t tee off with the temples in the background,” the guide tells the superb golfer plaintively. Known for his badger-like tenacity, on and off the course, the superb golfer climbs to the highest point in the Angkor Wat temple complex to make sure— and notes to his satisfaction—that the photo op doesn’t exist. At least not within the circumference of the circular water hazard. “That’s the temple moat,” pre-empts the guide. The superb golfer is rattled—it’s the first time someone has seen through his perfectly impassive game face. It’s a timely warning; with the Ballantine’s Team-Am Golf Challenge beginning the next day, he reminds himself to keep his guard up at all times. “Trust no one,” wrote Ian Fleming. With outstanding improvisation, the superb golfer writes in his diary, “Trust no one playing the tournament.” He reads it back to himself and allows himself a small smile of satisfaction—he’s humble and yet to deny his own brilliance is conceit.
The name of the game in Siem Reap, he notes, is ‘Angkor’. It seems to work like a charm—whether you’re selling noodle soup on the street or posh housing projects—and never disappears from peripheral vision. And that includes the superb golfer’s pad for the week—the Angkor Palace Hotel, a temple of leisure, where men and women luxuriate in the sun around the suspiciously Angkor-moat-like pool, hats down, noses buried in racy novellas. With his superior self-control, the superb golfer eschews the gin-and-tonic and dedicates the afternoon entirely to lager. When the haze lifts, the superb golfer finds himself standing on the tee, driver in hand and ball on a peg (precisely one-third above the tee like Nicklaus prescribed). He’s nattily attired with a fine selection from his considerable collection of golfing attire acquired from hundreds of corporate golf tournaments over the years. As usual, he’s made a point of pairing not colours, but competing brands that would never be seen together. Not for the faint-hearted, but the superb golfer makes it looks easy.
As the superb golfer’s trademark drill sergeant ‘FORE!’ goes out, his attention is suddenly drawn to a most curious scene unfolding 50 yards down the fairway: there appear to be lots of half-naked people running helter-skelter—some even diving into the water hazard. A lesser golfer would be thrown off his game by the distraction, but then, to state the obvious, he’s not the superb golfer. In spite of this most extraordinary situation, the superb golfer focuses on the task at hand: delivering the club face to the ball with just a slight left-tonight spin to make sure the ball fades five yards in the air and stops precisely after two hops to give him the ideal approach into the green. He notes that the green isn’t visible and deduces, with razor-quick reasoning, that it must be a dogleg. Someone from the unholy melee unfolding in the water hazard yells at him; the superb golfer can barely conceal his disdain. He could clear that ‘hazard’ with left-handed clubs.
With his acute powers of observation, he’s also aware of the real estate with big bay windows looming on both sides of the fairway. The superb golfer scoffs: not for him, these realty-based golf resorts. He executes his Jason Dufner shuffle and glances up for that last look to the target (with perfectly slanted eyes that confirm his perfect posture). Instead of the target all he sees is some kind of a uniform coming at him and then things go black. By the time the tournament organisers—two corporate-golf-battle-hardened veterans—extricate the superb golfer from this rather sticky situation that has unfolded poolside, he’s already uncovered the murky affair. The brew was spiked obviously, he tells the duo. There’s no scientific possibility of a few litres of barley water effecting such a strong reaction in the superb golfer’s superlative resistance to sedation. The organisers, who aren’t made of the same mettle as the superb golfer, look shaken. They nod weakly and point the way towards the hotel’s driving range. Capital, the superb golfer tells himself. He might have not got enough practise on account of the afternoon’s events, but his mental strength has been tested. And that, as all world-class players like the superb golfer know, is the key to superb golf.
The Angkor Golf Resort wins the superb golfer over at first sight—of the refreshment point at hole number five. Six-packs are freely available—golf balls too, and both are arranged next to each other. The superb golfer is impressed: he follows the intelligent reasoning and appreciates the subtlety. This is the point, the superb golfer realises, that he needs to stamp his authority on in this tropical parkland. The hops have begun to work their magic on the grip, which feels light and powerful—Walter Hagen would have been proud. The gaze narrows and the superb golfer becomes incapable of seeing the trouble lurking on either side of the fairways. Swagger replaces thought and the ball sails into the distance, crushed by this new man-ape on the fourth tee—a 200-yard five-iron to the green side bunker and up-and-down for birdie. Just like that. “Singha Power”, trill the delighted caddies in unison. That’s right ladies, the superb golfer acknowledges with a shake of his head. That’s how you play this game.
At the end of the round, the superb golfer has amassed 23 points. And once again, he’s done something like it’s never been done before—by not even being close to breaking 100. Three birdies, one par and a few loose shots for 109—the superb golfer’s teammates scratch their heads. Stableford boys, the superb golfer informs them, requires a different strategy.
A golfer, Meraj Shah also writes about the game