Strange Hazards on Colombo Course

A friend from Sri Lanka, where I was born, recently asked me to visit him if I was ever there and we could play a round at the Royal Colombo Golf Club.

I shuddered at the thought. My last trip to Colombo was in 1999, when I saw the rules of etiquette casually being abused at every dog-leg during my round at the golf club.

Not by the members, but by people who had never played a game of golf in their lives.

I don’t know if this phenomenon is unique to the Colombo club but there is an army of, I suppose vagrants, who patrol the course looking for stray golf balls that you hit and who they want to sell back to you.

I played with my brother, who was golfing for the first time and had no idea about proper course etiquette.

I was horrified when, at the first tee addressing the ball, one individual suddenly appeared in the middle of the fairway, signalling to me that it was okay to hit my shot because the previous flight were already safely away.

I furiously waved at him, asking him to get out of the way, but he refused to budge and kept motioning me with two arms, as if guiding a taxiing plane, to hit my shot.

I was livid, while my brother saw nothing wrong with the gesture and thought it highly decent of the guy.

A few holes later, I hit a shot into a shallow stream parallel to the fairway and this bearded chap who looked like he’d just walked out of a caveman movie approached me aggressively.

In perfect English, he said: “You’re not allowed to take the balls that land in the water.”

I replied: “It’s my ball, I can do what I want with it.”

“No,” he said. “We get to take these.”

“What, so you can sell my own ball back to me?”

At this point, my brother interjected, saying innocently: “He’s only trying to help, let him have the ball.”

I gave up and let him have the ball, trying hard for the rest of the round to keep my shots in play. All the while, we were followed by anywhere up to five hangers-on hoping we’d hit stray shots, of which there were many.

It wasn’t all bad. I had a great caddie who gave me excellent club selection tips and also taught me how to use a seven-iron instead of a wedge for short approach shots.

As a result I shot my lowest round ever.

My post-round complaints to the management were received by the expected shrug of the shoulders. Apparently, these guys just wander on to the course on their own and it was difficult to police.

I haven’t been back there since so I don’t know if the Colombo ball-retrieving squad are still active. If so, it’s a good way of forcing hackers to hit straight.

4 Responses to “Strange Hazards on Colombo Course”

  1. Clive says:

    :roll:Loved your views on a round at the Royal Colombo, I play at Brackley, we call it Royal Brackley Country Club and Spa, which is about as far from a true description of a course as you can get, we too have ball collectors but these are the little “scamps” from the surrounding council estate, their party piece however is, if they are not impressed with your ball to wait until you start to pass through a narrow section of one of the fairways then throw the ball back at you. This presents the problem, do you play with and risk losing a good ball, or do “run the gauntlet”. Don’t you just love the little darlings!:evil:

  2. Nazvi Careem says:

    Gene: Actually, I was hell bent on hitting the man on the fairway (It happened on almost all par-fours and par-fives), but utter lack of skill and accuracy prevented me from doing so.

    Glenn: The 7-iron tip was for shots from off the green, up to 10-20 feet, that did not involve overcoming a bunker or small depression or obstacle. It involved using the same stance as a putt, same stroke as a putt and enough weight to get the ball on to at least the fringe of the green. The 7 iron goes right under the ball. But remember, there’s no swing, it’s like a putting stroke. It worked for me.

  3. Glenn says:

    So what was the 7 iron tip? Can you share that with us?

  4. Gene Craig says:

    You say you had an excellent caddy. Part of his job is to help you with the rules and etiquatte of the course. Nice that he helped you with the 7 iron versus the wedge. Did you think of hitting into the man in the fairway waving at you?:twisted:

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