Dear Captain of the Golf Club

I like your title. It evokes images of strength and leadership. Of fearless officers who lead their men into battle. Of Captain Marvel, Captain America, Captain Planet.

And now, you. Captain Golf.

While Captain Planet has the power to control the natural elements, you have the power to control undesirable elements that attempt to gain membership to your club. Captain America uses his powers to stop evil beings from taking over the world. You use your powers to stop evil beings from taking over the bar.

Okay, so maybe you lack one or two qualities in the superhero department. But you make up for it by being a monumental pain in the ass. What were the main criteria for your getting the job? No, wait. Let me guess. Must be anal-retentive. Nit-picking skills essential. Obsessive-compulsive disorder a plus.

Before starting to write my recent book on golf, I thought I should at least play one round in the name of research. Easier said than done. The trouble started when I found an empty parking bay right in front of the club. I was removing my Cash Converter driver and putter from the boot when you screamed up in your red Hyundai and started hooting and shouting like a lunatic. It’s a parking bay, Captain. There’s no need to behave as if you had caught me with my head up your wife’s skirt.

After a couple of quick practice shots in the clubhouse bar, I walked briskly onto the first tee and was about to fire off a humdinger when you appeared out of the trees and began heading straight down the fairway towards me. I knew it was you because the word ‘Captain’ was emblazoned on the side of your golf cart.

You jumped out of the cart, came running up to me on your funny little legs and told me that you couldn’t allow me to play.

I thought you had perhaps mistaken me for a black man, but my infringement was of a far more serious nature.

In a voice that sounded like your balls were trapped in a vice, you told me that under no circumstances would I be allowed to tee off in the shirt I was wearing. I was relieved to see that you had a sense of humour, after all.

“Ha ha. Good one,” I said, resuming my practice swing.

Then you jumped in front of the ball as if you were a security service agent ready to take a bullet for the president. Apparently you were not joking.

Even though I paid more for my Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt than you pay for Viagra every month, you deemed it to be an illegal garment because it lacked a collar.

When I enquired further about the precise nature of the relationship between golf as a sport and shirts with collars, all you would say, over and over, was: “Club rules.”

So you left me with two choices. Change my shirt or face charges of assault with a deadly weapon. It was a close call, but in the end I shouldered my club and stalked off to the pro shop.

“And get some proper shoes while you’re at it,” you shouted after me. Caterpillar boots, apparently, are not good enough. Apparently you have to wear two-tone slip-on brothel creepers that cost more than any hooker in any brothel I’ve ever been to.

A couple of thousand rand lighter, me and my stupid collared shirt went back to the first tee. And there you were, waiting to inspect me as if you were a real officer who had been commissioned for bravery in the face of extreme danger in the bunker on the 7th hole.

Actually, a lot of the time you don’t even get your hands dirty when it comes to dealing with lowlife scum like me. You make up the rules and then employ a grim-faced petty-minded paramilitary thug to enforce them on your behalf.

After setting your attack dog on me, you belly up to the bar and slide effortlessly into your chair. I know it’s your chair because your fat white privileged bum has polished the wood to a shine and there are indentations on the bar where you rest your fat white privileged elbows.

Without being asked, the barman brings you your first double G&T of the day. He has been at the club longer than you have and you treat him with the respect he deserves.

“You’ve come a long way, Bobby. I’m proud of you. From caddy to barman in just 20 years.”

“Thank you, Mr Captain Sir. I remember when I …”

“Never mind that now, Bobby. Just bring me another drink.”

Nurturing the careers of employees is just one of your responsibilities. Another is to ensure that the club’s membership remains exclusive. Without exclusivity, you might as well be the captain of an old boy’s rugby team or the captain of a leaky old snoek boat.

In your eyes, there are certain people who should never be allowed to play golf. Questioned further, you reply: “Look, I’m not a racist, but …” We understand. The last thing this country needs is hordes of unwashed darkies urinating on the fairways, going at each other with 7-irons and highlighting our inadequacies in the showers.

At least everyone knows you’re not gay. If you were, you wouldn’t tell quite as many homophobic jokes every time you entertained a visiting team in the bar. You are fond of women. The vice captain’s wife, in particular. But you long for the good old days when a woman’s place was in the clubhouse and not on the course.

You might think you’re an officer, but you’re certainly no gentleman.

Yours truly,

Ben Trovato

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