So far all the indicators are that Dorje’s not going to be a soccer star. A little too William Webb-Ellis to follow the rules perhaps. And he’s unlikely to make it as a rugby player either, thanks to both strict instructions from his mom, and his rather un-prop forward-like build.
So, perhaps inspired by Louis Oosthuizen’s arrival from nowhere, I took Dorje to play Putt-Putt for the first time yesterday.
He’d never played, nor so much as picked up a golf club, and his first attempt was to wield it like a cross between a hockey stick and a broom. After some emergency tutoring, we settled down to play. The course was empty, so I decided to allow him a maximum of 10 shots, at least giving him a chance to feel the thrill of holing the ball after all that hacking.
He started with a 5, a 6 and a 10. A 3 on hole 4 seemed to have turned the tide, but it was followed up by a 10, a 6 and a 9. He ended the first 9 holes on a 41 over par 59.
He wasn’t helped in his instruction by watching two children, about his age, who really did dribble the ball into the hole.
Hole 10 kicked off the last 9 with a 7.
At that point the spirit of Louis descended, and my visions of him lifting the claret jug began. He went on a remarkable run of 4 consecutive 2’s. A wobble at hole 15, a 4, was followed by another 2 consecutive 2’s. However, he needs to work on his ability to handle pressure, as hole 18, with a free ticket beckoning, was a blow-out.
Hole 18 has a very steep, long slope, so one needs to hit the ball hard to even make it up the slope. His first attempt to make it up saw the ball fly airborne into the wooden shed behind the course. Not a bad drive for a putter. His second attempt at least stayed on the ground, but didn’t quite have enough power to make it all the way. The third time was successful.
However, the course hasn’t aged well, and there are dips and cracks in the concrete base, so many of the surfaces are quite skew. Hole 18 is one such, and is so skew that if you don’t sink the putt, the ball glides slowly all the way to the far side of the ‘green’, leaving a long, tricky putt. A few failed attempts, all ending with the ball flat against the far surface, centimetres from where it had started, saw him disheartened and he ended with a 10.
But there was enough shown that I’m investigating pulling him from his school and sending him to the Ernie Els Foundation.