Archive for December, 2003


Monday, December 22nd, 2003

Published in Options2 – The Edge


The first time I ever set foot on a golf course, Bay City Rollers were cool. Not that I was a Rollers fan, of course, lumbered as I was with childhood in small town Sabah, in those days a rich state fat with the grease of timber wealth but nonetheless a world away from the voodoo of international pop music. Still, to call the facilities of our town’s golf club a ‘golf course’ may be charitable. You see, in spite of a clubhouse plaque that proudly declared its intentions, fact remained that ours was a 3-hole golf course.

A 3-hole golf course, even in those days, was considered weird. For one thing, golfers had to battle the same 3 holes 6 times in order to obtain a proper score. It also meant that the club only needed to hire one employee, an alcoholic gentleman by the name of Uncle Ping, who when not battling weeds as groundsman, doubled as the barman at the clubhouse bar. Still, despite such glaring weaknesses, the golf club turned out to be a wildly popular facility in our town. Its members included my father, who took to golfing with aplomb as soon as he found the game, and played it often and well.

Anyway, it so happened that one mid-December day, father decided to introduce me to the club. Mother’s objections were met with assurances that my 7-year old skull would not have to brave the dangers of misaligned balls because I would be safe under the custody of Uncle Ping at the clubhouse. In any case, father would be able to look in on me every 3 holes, so what was there to worry about? ‘It would build such a lovely bond between a man and his boy’, my old man crooned as he moved in for the kill. And thus mother’s resistance crumbled and I was introduced to the vagaries of being a golfer’s son.

As anyone imbued with the mysteries of the game will attest, golf has a way of screwing up well-laid plans. And so it was that we arrived at the club to find Uncle Ping sound asleep behind the bar. Vigorous shaking and blasphemous hollering only yielded an empty whiskey bottle under his clubfoot. Uncle Ping was dead drunk. And since the clubhouse was otherwise deserted, father and his golf buddies soon decided that taking me along onto the course was the only viable option. But before that, father had to ensure I kept my impending walkabout a secret from mother. It soon resolved that I stood to gain a set of children’s golf clubs from Father Christmas if I would keep my gob shut. A tad naughty really, but a bloody sharp deal nonetheless. So I said yes.

Now, you might think that this is unfolding into a romantic tale of how I fell in love with golf. But nothing is further from the truth. In fact, I was indifferent to golf for most of my life and did not pick it up till my late-20s. Even then, I never excelled at it. No, this is not one of those Hollywood stories dripping with saccharine promise. The truth is, I don’t even remember that December day very well. Sure, I recall the shearing heat overhead as I walked the course; I remember lovegrass seeds sticking to my socks; I recall the wide expanse of mountains in the distance; and of course, I remember the last hole of the day…

We were on the green. Everyone was strangely tense and silent. I guess they’ve been betting money. Father looked stern as he readied himself to putt. The air froze. But momentarily, he stood away from the ball, walked across to me, and asked, ‘you wanna have a go?’

I shook my head, terrified.

He stared at me for a moment then leaned close to my right ear. ‘Make me proud’, he whispered as he offered me his putter. Oh man. Emotional blackmail. I looked at the ball. It was about 2 foot from the hole.

I don’t know what possessed me to take my father’s putter to this day. All I know is that I strolled up to the ball and set myself up as I’ve seen father do all day. I choked down on the putter and studied the hole as though born to it. Then I looked at the ball again and held my breath. Time slowed. I steadily took the putter back and swung it gently forward.


I missed.

In fact, I missed two more times in quick succession, running the ball 2 foot past the hole each time. And when the ball finally yielded into the cup on my fourth attempt, I looked up shame-faced at father. I remember feeling humiliated. Then I burst into tears.

Oh well, so much for my heroic career in golf.

Years later, after a round at the Bangi Golf Resort, father told me that my 4-putt debut had cost him RM250 and much soul searching. I, in turn, told him that the children’s golf clubs he bought me for Christmas that year were traded in for a guitar as soon as I heard Jimmy Page. I also intimated to him that my adventures as a budding guitarist would eventually acquaint me with a mystery of quite a different nature. What mystery, I hear you ask? Well, being a discreet man, I can only tell you that there are mysteries much older than golf, and much more fun.

Oh how father and I had a good laugh about that one!

Okay, if you really care to know, I’ll tell you. Her name was Lucile and she had a thing about…

Please don’t tell mum.

Editor’s Note: “Pete Teo is a recording artist. When he last played golf regularly, he held a handicap of 11. He is an incorrigible fibber. Check out his other fibs at”