Golf caddies born on the wrong side of the blanket

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To be precise, 26-years into democracy and just as yours truly started to think and believe that gone are the days when a white man would swing the clubs while the dark man carries the bag. Gone are the days when well-to-do larneys would hit the ball into the rough and the black caddy would have to fetch it – but a quite interesting or rather unpleasant episode unfolded.

During my many years of sports reporting, I’ve been a frequent visitor to the Windhoek Country Club golf course, but have never really been close enough to acquaint myself with the inner doings of those that enjoy this elite sporting discipline.

Yours truly was billed to tee off at the ICT Ministers Golf Day last Friday, but alas, given my advanced age and poor eyesight, there was no chance of me going to chase after a little white little ball to try and retrieve it from amongst dangerous species, including venomous snakes.

Lest we forget, I’ve never swung clubs before and being a keen follower of the elite game, yours truly knew very well that a significant chunk of my tee shots would find comfort in the bushy roughs.

This brought me to the idea of roping in a caddy, but I noticed that for some strange reason all caddies available were blokes from my own kith and kin. I wanted something different and turned to two larneys, who stood in the corridor ready to tee off – humbly asking the two gentlemen if anyone of them would mind being my caddy for the day.

Guess what happened? The pair gifted me that familiar look of disapproval one has become so well-accustomed to, the way larneys typically react when offended by remarks or actions that they think do not exactly tie in with their self proclaimed superior status.

After a short pause, one of the blokes politely or rather sarcastically asked me how much I would pay him, to which I boldly responded: ‘I will reward you with the standard fee for caddies, N$150 to be precise.’

The brother exploded in his uncompromising favourite mother tongue, Afrikaans: “IS JY MAL?” (are you insane?). So, this is exactly what happens when roles are swapped.

The response, bordering on sheer arrogance, punctuated by theconstant misplaced perception that larneys are superior to their darker counterparts left yours truly baffled – and with more questions than answers, to say the least.

It immediately dawned on the author that in colloquial terms, notably at the WCC, the phrase “caddy” is exclusively reserved for the dark-skinned. Upon further inquiry, it came to light that caddies are obliged to operate under a series of discriminating rules and by-laws at this sacred institution.

The poor dudes are strictly prohibited from having meals in the canteen, let alone enjoy a glass of cold beer in the pub after a hard day’s work.

Now, the question that needs to be raised is: were these blatant discriminatory rules going to be aggressively applied if there were pale-skinned caddies in the pool? I’m just asking.

Interestingly, when retired golfers of European descent switch to the role of caddy for their offspring, rules are conveniently bent, meaning these golfers-cum-caddies are more than welcome to drink and dine freely in the sacred Clubhouse.

So, could yours truly then be faulted for concluding that there are indeed two different sets of rules at WCC for caddies, defined by the colour of their skin? I’m just asking.

As a matter of fact, it is incumbent upon the sports presiding body, the national sports commission (NSC) to introduce without further delay hard and fast rules, primarily aimed at preventing these inhumane practices, so prevalent in many of our sports codes.

My simple advice to the toothless men in blue suits at the Commission is: wake up, smell the java and take a leaf out Fikile Mbalula’s book. I rest my case.

 

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