- the light has gone out - continued
- January 17th, 2011
I heaved a huge sigh of relief and said 'I thought you were going to throw me off the course for wearing jeans'. He burst out laughing and said 'I will' - and he lifted me, carried me 10 yards and dumped me off the fairway.
That was his way - everyone felt that they had a special relationship with him. I have approached him innumerable times with problems, things that I felt were not being done right. He would listen, carefully analyse and argue. We had many heated arguments, but he was always ready to admit he was wrong and change his mind. When I got through the referees exam, he congratulated me and then confessed quite frankly that he had gone to Scotland and attempted the exam a couple of times but failed. Even with his vast experience and instinctive knowledge of the game, he found the vagaries of the English language too difficult to master in order to pass the exam. On any question of rules, he never jumped to conclusions, he would study the books, listen carefully to arguments, argue and come to a conclusion - he was rarely wrong.
In the enforcement of rules - he was strict, almost ruthless when it came to breach of etiquette and cheating. Quite a few players who had been caught cheating or manipulating their handicaps were handed bans of 3 to 6 months. And he was harsh on himself also, during one tournament I saw him striding back to the club house with steam coming out of his ears. What had happened? His caddy had found his ball in a bush and had moved it to a more favourable lie. Some players would accept this with eyes closed, most would scold the caddy and take the penalty - but only Captain would instantaneously take the responsibility and disqualify himself and leave the course. I have been hauled up before the committee any number of times - and have hauled up others too. The enquiries were always conducted with the utmost attention to detail and fairness and courtesy to the parties concerned. At the same time whenever I used to make flippant remarks, he would laugh - but that would not distract him from the point in question. I was lucky - disqualified a few times for honest mistakes, but never banned, suspended or even reprimanded.
In the days to come I will try to recall some of the more interesting incidents. No time today. I think the last time I met him was when I was refereeing a tournament in Coimbatore - he had come to watch. I remember discussing the water treatment plant between the 8th hole and the 3rd fairway. For some reason it had been marked as a lateral water hazard which gave a player who looses his ball in the water a chance to be on in 3. In the first place, no player has any business going there unless he plays a rank bad shot. Water hazards are supposed to be in the fairway or just off it. In all fairness this tank should be declared as an integral part of the course. He agreed with me - I do not know if it was implemented.
He was the embodiment of the spirit of golf - though he is no more, I sure the spirit lives on in the thousands of lives he touched in his long career.
to be continued