We had four very pleasant, elderly Japanese men out yesterday who played reasonable golf but were most unwilling to give each other short putts, making for a very long round. All went swimmingly until a major incident over one chap’s score on the fifteenth.

It started when he was asked what he’d had. He said ‘bogey’. The other three looked most perplexed and then went onto display a fascinating array of serious, thoughtful looking and contorted facial expressions with the conversation going something like this, ‘bogey?’, ‘bogey?’, ‘bogey?’ Then after a short interval and some very rapid fire Japanese, they repeated the word but with a major change in intonation, ‘bogey!’,’bogey!’,’bogey!’. To which our man replied rather reflectively, ‘yes bogey!’.

Another lull in the conversation takes place, as a lifetime character assessment is obviously being put on the line and severely questioned by the three, or indeed they are merely entertaining the possibility that some sake has been at play. There is then an even more energized dialogue in the Japanese tongue, intertwined with a good twenty soundings of the word ‘bogey’ in finely and meaningfully nuanced intonations, that clearly intimates a situation of great disquiet while giving insight into the wonderfully expressive nature of oriental language, indeed the mileage to be had out of a single word.

However, after a few knowing nods and shaking of heads this is all resolved very abruptly and clinically with ‘double bogey!’, ‘ double bogey!’, ‘ double bogey!’ And, even after remonstrations from caddie Frank, this appears to be most conclusive and the poor man gets a seven on his card. I can only think that a critical line in high Japanese culture and honour has been breached, as Frank’s man acquiesces immediately. Peer pressure I think, or indeed maybe the sake has been at play.

This reminds me of an incident at my home course when my brother was marking the card of this individual. Funny enough it was also on the sixteenth tee and my brother asked the chap his score who said ‘five’. He had actually had a six and my brother queried the score to which the man remarkably and unashamedly replied ‘net five’.
For goodness sake, give me some!

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