Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dare to Dream

It was totally unexpected when I was told I was going to play a round of golf at Preswick St. Nicholas Golf Course, Ayrshire, Scotland. Jonathan Smithers, my son-in-law's father went out of his way to arrange a game for me with the Scottish Blind Golf Society when he learned I was going to visit him in Scotland during my recent holiday to the UK. It was my good fortune that the Scottish Blind Golf Society had in their calender, a golf tournament at Preswick during the time when my family would be in Scotland.

`Hello, you must be Jonathan and this must be Eric Yam, from Malaysia’, the first words I heard as we, the Smithers and the Yams, walked towards the clubhouse. `I am Gerry and my wife, Mary’ as our hosts introduced himself. We, then, proceeded to the clubhouse for some snacks before the tee-off which was scheduled at noon on that day. I took the time in between snacks to gather more information about the day's event. Gerry and I would tee-off together, two ball flight, walk the course with our caddie/guides. Jonathan was my caddie/guide for the day, his first experience in this role and Mary was Gerry's. This would be the first time that Hong, my wife, would not be my 'advisor' on the course. It was quite nerve wrecking, with the anxiety and thoughts that were in turmoil in my mind. Worse still, I was expecting a typical Scottish cold, wet weather, strong winds and was been wondering how I was to survive and complete the game. Another concern was that I would be playing with a borrowed golf set.

It was an exhilarating experience standing on the first tee-box, on this historical 160 year old link course, an experience, which I would not forget for a very long time. It was an impossible dream that became a reality. Golfing was the last thing in my mind after losing my sight 3 years ago due a severe bacterial infection, and now I am about to drive my first golf ball onto the fairway in this historical link golf course. Like many other golfers, it's a wish and a dream to play a round of golf in Scotland, the home of golf. The emotions and nostalgia got the better of me and cause my first tee shot to stray out of bound. No complaints though, as the satisfaction overcame the frustration. It was, after all, not a dream but real golfing in action.

Mary was ever so patient and was giving tips, advice and all that was to know about blind golf to Jonathan, a role he took up for the first time in being my caddie/guide. As we walked the course Gerry and Jonathan, too, described to me the scenic landscapes around the course, as we played the holes. I could feel the openness, the fresh scent of the plants, especially the gorse bushes found growing alongside many fairways, emitting scent similar to that of coconut. Every hole has a name and a story to tell. I could clearly recall playing the 16th hole, the Tom Morris signature, par 4 hole, which, I too, had a good drive and a shot to remember in my first ever Scottish golf experience. Not forgetting too, the elevated greens which were at my eye/head level, as Jonathan coolly informed me when my ball landed near and below the greens. He must had had wondered how he was going to advice me on how to play the next crucial shot, i.e. landing the ball onto the green! Kudos to Jonathan we managed.

Surprisingly, the weather was kind, with blue sky and the sun out in full force, and the cool breeze blowing, making the day a truly memorable one for all of us, especially Jonathan and I.

After the game, the Provost of Ayr, was the honored VVIP for the event. Gerry and Mary introduced us, the Smithers and the Yams to the Provost of Ayr. We were treated to a great dinner and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a Scottish Golf Society neck-tie as a momento to cherish from Gerry.
Gerry Kelly as I learned earlier was the founder of blind golf in the British Isles many years ago and truly a remarkable guy to meet. It was indeed an honor for me to have played a round of golf with him. As a matter of fact, I dare say that he was an inspiration to me in re-learning golf after my sight loss. When I first surfed the internet about information on blind golf, I stumbled upon Gerry's blind golf journey. Gerry's story truly reflected his determination to pursue his dreams of playing and introducing blind golf to his comrades in the British Isles. It did not dawn on me that one day I would have the opportunity to meet Gerry and not only that, I would also be playing a round of golf with him too!

I know that with Gerry's inspiration and his much advice to me, it will spur me to work in realizing the first Malaysian Blind Golf society in the near future.

A note of thanks to Jonathan, for without him my dream of playing golf with Gerry at Preswick St.Nicholas would not have been realized.

More challenging times ahead!

1 comment:

Ooi-Chin said...

This is truly inspirational Eric & we are extremely proud of you. OCR xx