Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When The Links Hit Back

By Troy:
This week Britt and I shared one of Haiti's strangest experiences together - golfing in Port au Prince. This time, it was even stranger than usual. It is always a nice change to see grass in Haiti, especially this much at once, and right now it is very green from the recent rains.

When we approached the first green I noticed something else different - there was no flag marking the hole location. There was, however, a golf club sticking out of the hole. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a club from my bag - the caddy had run ahead and stuck it in there for us. When we found the same problem on the second green I asked Gerald, the 'Caddy Master', where their flags went. He told me "The man who puts the flags out didn't come to work today." Ahhhh, Haiti. I just smiled and continued on. This is Haiti, after all, and to get a chance to play golf here is such a treat - almost nothing can wreck it. Almost...but we'll get to that in a bit.

The temperature was in the 90's, but so was the humidity. We were totally soaked in sweat early on, yet one of the caddies wore black jeans and a windbreaker the entire time. I don't think he ever broke a sweat.

The beautiful Petionville Club Golf Course was in fine form - fairways were being mowed, as usual, with a push-mower.
Here's where things got really strange. Actually, it happened on the first tee. After I had completed shanking three balls out of play (that's not strange at all) we descended to the ladies' tees for Britt. She tried to settle in and get used to having an audience with the caddies standing there. Her first attempt was a whiff that we quickly decided was a practice swing.

Her second swing started out beautifully, straight takeaway, smooth tempo, beautiful contact with the ball....and then the strangest thing I've ever seen. I heard the club strike the ball and saw it sailing off - but then it reversed direction and came straight back at Britt. By the time I turned I saw the ball ricocheting off her face and hitting her in the shoulder. We were all stunned. Britt was holding her hand over her mouth and I was sure she had a mouth full of broken teeth. I was instantly scrambling in my head to think of where we could get dental care.

The caddies looked shocked and scared, and as I looked around to figure out what had happened one of them pointed to the tee-box marker. At the Petionville Club the markers are made of cement. They are made from a plastic cup with cement poured in and then turned upside down with a piece of rebar sticking out to hold them in place.

Somehow Britt's ball went way to the right and hit the marker, then ricocheted straight back into her face. I'd like to know the odds of that ever happening again.
Fortunately when she removed her hand I saw that her teeth had been spared - the ball hit her squarely on the chin. It made her eyes well up and even now she has quite a purple bruise to go with the egg on her face. The pain hadn't gone away by the time we finished nine holes, so we called it a day and went in search of some ice cream to soothe the pain.