I PLAYED MY very first Golf game in the fairway today. This is something really extraordinary considering my background and history on golf.
I started to develop an interest in the game sometime in early 2003. I was still working for a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM then. I was the Head of Sales and Marketing. Naturally, my superiors, colleagues, and even some customers have been encouraging me to play golf for the longest time. But it was only in early 2003 that I seriously considered giving it a try.
There are two people whom I recall to have played a key role in initiating me into the game. Ironically, both of them were directly reporting to me at the time.
The first is James Raymundo. James was the Sales Manager of CITE, Inc., an IBM subsidiary which was eventually merged with ACISystems, Inc., another IBM subsidiary and of which I was the Sales and Marketing Manager. During the merger, I was appointed as Head of Sales & Marketing of the new organization which was renamed to IBM Solutions Delivery, Inc. or ISD to IBM insiders. James, on the other hand, was appointed Sales Manager, a position directly reporting to me.
James developed interest on Golf quite early. Back then in early 2003 he must have been playing golf for at least five years already. I recall having joined James in exactly one session at the driving range in Valle Verde along C5 (now Shell Gas Station, SM Hypermart, and Tiendesitas).
The last I’ve heard about James is that he is still with IBM. I believe he is now the RESO (Real Estate and Security Officer) of IBM Philippines. A major career shift for him I must say, but also definitely an advancement.
The other person who influenced me to take interest in golf is Renzo Bellardo. I hired Renzo as Marketing Manager of ISD in mid-2003. He is also a cousin of ISD’s president at that time, Noel Mendoza.
While James plays golf only half-seriously (almost just for fun) Renzo is a certified disciple. He is the one who encouraged me to take a pro to teach me the basics of the game. I remember that at one time he brought me to the driving range of Camp Aguinaldo where he made me try out the pro who has been coaching him. That was when I realized that golf is a complicated game.
And then I left IBM in December 2003. After some time I heard that Renzo moved on to take a Marketing Manager job for one of the product divisions of IBM Philippines. I also heard that some time last year he eventually left IBM to join an IBM competitor. Although I haven’t confirmed it yet I assume he went to HP to join Noel Mendoza and quite a handful of other IBMers who joined HP in 2006 and 2007.
That’s basically all the background I have on golf.
Fast forward to the present time. Exactly three days ago (March 17, Monday) my boss, Jose Eduardo Delgado (JED to Delbros insiders), asked me to go see him in his office. He asked me if I want to learn to play golf. Of course I said yes. I’ve been wanting to for almost a decade now. But I told him I never quite found the time for it. And apart from 2 or 3 times in the driving range since 2003, I haven’t played any game. I also do not have any golf equipment and accessories yet.
JED asked me to go and join him in one of our warehouses in Delbros Cargo Center Ã± South, which is the same compound where our corporate offices are. At the warehouse are several golf sets. He asked me to pick one for myself. I told him I couldn’t tell the difference so he picked a set for me. It looks almost like new. It must be new, maybe used 1 or 3 times. He asked me to get it and bring it to our first golf game on Thursdays that week. That is just 2 days away!
Naturally I was on panic mode. I haven’t played any golf before. I’ve never been in the fairway and I know nothing of the rules of the game. But JED assured me that I need not worry about it. He’ll teach me along the way and I’ll just play Ã¬best ball.Ã® All I need to do is show up at the Intramuros Golf Course a little before 6:00 AM on Thursday with my new golf set and proper golf attire. Yes of course I have to go buy my golf shoes, my first real investment in golf.
JED added that it would not hurt if I visit a driving range, try some of the clubs in my new golf set, and hit some balls. So I dropped by the driving range at Villamor Airbase early the following morning. I returned in the evening with my college pal, Mann Marvil. Mann lives in Taguig and I remembered that he plays golf and in fact has been inviting me to play with him for quite some time. Mann gamely agreed to accompany me at the driving range in Villamor Airbase. That was yesterday. After two sessions and a total of three hours and a half at the driving range my panic has grown more instead of less. Reality has struck me right in the gut. I can’t play golf. Not yet, at least.
After lunch yesterday, I attended a meeting where JED was also present. After the meeting I made a last ditch effort to extricate myself from joining the golf game which was less than 24 hours away. I told JED that it would not be a good idea if I already joined them (to play with him the following day would be Raymund Narvaez or RCN to Delbros insiders) and that I needed maybe a week or two to practice in the driving range. JED dismissed my appeal and said there is nothing for me to worry about. He said I will learn more from that fairway game with him and RCN than I would in a month at the driving range.
I was doomed to my fate. I took comfort on the Biblical passage, Ã¬this too shall pass.Ã®
And it did! It is now almost 7:00 PM, march 20. Miraculously I survived my first fairway golf game this morning. And it was the full 18-hole course of Intramuros.
True enough I made some really bad shots. But they were funny more than humiliating. Nobody booed me. All I got were encouragements and a lot of tips and pointers from JED, RCN, and even my caddy.
I lost eight balls, which is not bad considering that I went to the game with 15 expecting to lose all of them and maybe a few more.
Having played only Ã¬best ballÃ® it couldn’t be considered a real game and my game wasn’t scored. I did a mental note of my shots nonetheless and in my estimation I must have scored 140 or more (for a par-66 course). Still a decent score considering my golf experience, or the absence of it.
The really best part of it is that I now really like the game. Playing on the fairway is nothing like what I have experienced before. JED is right. Unless and until I played in the fairway I wouldn’t know if the game will have a hook on me or not. Now I know it does. I am just not sure whether that is a good thing or not. #