Mendoza: In golf, just enjoy and make play secondary

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Monday, March 3, 2014

GOLF is so difficult that sometimes, in this game, it takes only one shot to make or unmake a player. One swing could make you a loser or a winner.

I will never forget what the late, legendary Bantam Ben Arda had said to me many years back.

“Isang tama lang sa puno iyan bukas, magkakatalo na,” Arda said. (Just one shot hitting a tree could spell the difference tomorrow.)


He was then down three strokes off the leader with a round left.

As if by fate, Ireneo “Boy” Legaspi (bless his soul, too), the overnight leader by three strokes, hit a tree on his very first tee shot of the day—the ball ricocheting back deep into the woods.

It was the first hole of Valley Golf Club in Antipolo City, which has probably the most difficult opening hole of any course in the country. Both sides of the fairway have towering trees as many as the blades of grasses at New York City’s Central Park.

After an eternity of hitting trees in the woods, Legaspi limped out of the green with an eight of a snowman to yield the lead to Arda, who made birdie on the par-4 hole, by two shots.

Arda went on to win and when I interviewed him again, he said, “Kita mo na? (See what I mean?).”

In the recent PAL Media Golf in Bacolod, I remembered Arda again.

I was four down off the leader going to the last round. After the first three holes, I was behind by two. Then I grabbed the lead on the fourth hole and kept the 1-shot margin after the fifth.

Then Arda’s quote came to mind.

I pulled my tee shot on the sixth. Triple bogey. Two behind. I kept my peace on the next hole. But on the eighth, I made my snowman. Four behind.

From there, I discarded my battle gear. Back to Rule No. 1: Golf is not to be played but to be enjoyed. Golf is like a damsel being wooed. If she balks, no forcing through.

So, no bitterness at all.

I’d won the PAL Media Golf 17 years ago in 1997—also in Bacolod. My third-place finish this year among 17 hopefuls, behind Inquirer’s Ted Melendres and Bulletin’s Ding Marcelo, I cherish it as well.

I took the blow. No sulking. Because I played my part. Smell the flowers. Enjoy.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 04, 2014.


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