Most people know me as the guy who calls the Azkals Football games. Before 2011 I was best known as the dude who commentated on Pool. I love both of those sports, but my first love is Golf.
My father started teaching me the game when I was about eight years old. I practiced my swing in our back yard in Indonesia. I could see my reflection from the glass door leading to the house. I painstakingly made my swing look just like Tom Watson's. (The resemblance has disappeared over the years, by the way.)
Golf was a part of my weekends all throughout grade school and high school. I was nuts about the game. I was also mostly terrible. At my peak I carried an 18 handicap, good for a few break-90 rounds here and there, and the odd foray into the high 90s.
Beating Dad was mostly a fantasy for me. Dad was never a long hitter, but he had a technically sound, consistent flat swing that produced one cookie-cutter fade after another. Dad is also terrific with the flat stick. A magnificent lag putter.
But his real strength was his short game, his chipping and pitching. Dad was money from around the green. He could get up-and down from anywhere, even the sand.
Dad played to a 13 handicap into his sixties, not bad for someone who struggled to drive the ball 220 yards.
I only ever beat him three times. The first time was one of the happiest days of my life.
Dad is 77 now and needs to ride a cart when he plays. His hands are weak and he is fortunate to break a 100. But at least he's playing.
When he invited me for 9 holes during our Baguio holiday, I couldn't say no, even though I hadn't played since October and hadn't gone to the range in months.
It's a frigid morning and we are at the tee of the first hole in Baguio Country Club. Dad is bundled up in a grey and yellow sweatshirt. It's frayed and faded. I take after my father in that respect. We don't like spending on the clothes, and we wear clothes longer than most. But Dad is in a different class.
"This sweatshirt was given to me as a gift when we were living in Singapore" he says proudly.
We left Singapore in 1988.
We tee off on the Par 3 first hole. My drive is a gruesome pull-hook way left, on the wrong side of the double green that the first and tenth holes share. I make a lame chip to 40 feet and four putt from there for a triple-bogey six. A Double Par. Dad makes the same score.
On the Par 4 second hole I miraculously make par with an approach over the green and a nice lag putt. Dad bogeys. We both double the third hole and bogey the fourth.
The Par 4 fifth is BCC's version of Camp John Hay's legendary Cardiac Hill. It's a 254 yards straight uphill. Dad has no illusions about his ability to climb it, and has a golf cart ferry him up. I smoke my drive and place my approach just short of the green. From there I somehow get up and down for a shocking par. Dad huffs and puffs his way to a double bogey. I'm three strokes up and feeling good about.
The sixth hole is a Par 4 with a drive over a road and an approach up another steep hill. I block my drive to the right, behind a tree. I chip out but to a very awkward lie with the ball below my feet.
And then everything falls to pieces.
My pitching wedge shot from there is chunked, meaning I hit behind the ball. It squirts forward a few yards. Then I chunk another wedge. And another. And another.
It takes me a total of six swings to reach the green on top of the hill. Naturally, to add insult to injury, I three-putt for a 9.
WAITER: Here's your order, sir! An extra large serving of Excrement with a topping of Vomit. Enjoy!
Dad double bogeys and my three shot lead has evaporated into the chilly mountain air.
Then what transpires is what happens when my game hits a bad patch. It gets worse.
Hole 7 is a downhill Par 3 with a pond in front. My caddie says its 90 yards. I don't believe him and use an 8 iron. I swing easy, but in Golf, when you swing easy you swing better. I hammer my Top Flite right into the tall grass behind the green.
Since I suspect the ball is lost forever, I tee off again with what is known as a provisional ball, or provi. In the likely event I can't find my ball, this becomes my ball, with a stroke-and distance penalty. My club for the provi? The wedge.
I chunk the wedge.
It dribbles down the hill just short of the pond. I need to hit yet another half wedge shot to the green. There is just no hope, as I hit yet another chunk, and the provisional flutters gracelessly into the greenish soup in front the green. I drop another ball with a penalty and coax it on the green.
Right now I feel like heaving my pitching wedge into the very bottom of Mines View Park.
Then my caddie and I rush to the tall grass behind the green where my first ball is. I need to find this ball! If I do and have a shot, I am lying two behind the green. If we can't find it, I'm lying SEVEN on the green with my provi.
But the grass is well above my knees. The terrain is suitable for hiding a salvage victim, not finding a golf ball. My caddie stomps around, wielding a seven iron in the grass like a scythe. I suspect he is only pretending to look for my ball, not really doing so. I call off the search, and two-putt with my provisional for... an 8. What golfers refer to as a Snowman. I have just made two quintuple bogeys in a row.
Dad makes another double bogey, but has made up five strokes on me in two holes. Life sucks.
The eighth is a Par 3, just 238 yards with a wide, inviting fairway. I decide to unleash my frustrations on my drive so I let her rip. The ball veers right and lands on a shelf. I need to use a 7 iron to avoid branches and the balls lands just short. I top my chip but it rolls up ten inches away for a par. Dad double bogeys again. Amazingly, I'm just a stroke off with a hole to play.
I've gone Par, Quintuple Bogey, Quintuple Bogey, Par.
The ninth and last hole is a Par 3. I use an 8 iron off the tee and it's a peach. Dead on line. It's also too long and I end up in the bunker behind the hole. Dad lands short. I putt out of the hard bunker to 10 feet away. My Dad, all-earth chipper, shockingly serves up a dud and lands 25 feet short of the hole.
If he two putts and I sink, we tie. There is hope for salvaging this sorry round. There is hope for me to get a piece of him somehow. An air of drama is thick amongst the pine trees.
And yet moments later, all hope is extinguished. Dad steps up and drains 25-footer into the cup for his only par of the day. That's that. I two-putt and he wins 43 to 45. 10 over par against 12.
But in the end the score doesn't matter. Sports is about having a great time and strengthening bonds of family and friendship. Nothing can break that in the game of Golf.
Not even back-to-back quintuple bogeys.