He had wondered in amazement at the site of a full grown man running after a small ball. ‘Rubbish’, he used to say… “If that’s what they call golf, then it isn’t for me,” he is fond of saying then.
But all that changed the day Taiwo Joda was advised to overlook that ‘stupidity’ for the sake of the health benefit therein.
Not one to argue unnecessarily..,.. Joda muttered to himself,…‘in this hot sun?’. Somehow, he headed the advice, and went straight to the Pro-shop. There, he meant a tall slim man, called, ‘Saliu Liman’. With him he headed to the range at Ikeja Golf Club.
After a little bit of this and that, Jada, stood behind the small ball, with a big headed club pulled backward, knees slightly bent, arm stretched straight, then whacked the little thing called ‘golf ball’.
Since then, he became ‘golf born-again’, sinless… but with one regret.., the same regret every new convert talks about. Not starting the sport early enough.
It took Joda six years after joining the club, to make that move.
His sojourn to the golf course is not actually his making; it’s a requirement in his office as a banker. His choice of Ikeja Golf Club might be divine even though he is also a member of Ikoyi Club.
Unlike every new member who would want to have a feel of the game on joining, Joda would have none of that. He will come into the club, sit quietly with friends, once in a while glance at the course and “see some young able bodied men and their senior colleagues sweating profusely in the hot sun”. He would shake his head, “those guys must be crazy”, he will say to himself.
“How can anybody be walking around in this hot sun,” he would wonder, “what would a young healthy man be doing sweating so much, they must be crazy,” were some of the thoughts that kept him away.
That was then.
Now, to him, a week without golf seems like a seven-day of dry fast.
Joda now sheds important events to come and play golf,.. gets hooked to the game and explains it away.
Like many others like him, the excuse is always the same. “I say your money going is better than you going”.
But it wasn’t that he actually hated the sport initially, but as he put it, he thought golf was a calling and he wasn’t called into it.
“I tried to play after my induction at the club, but I was returning figures that were obscene. When you returned figures like 123 over 18-holes, when you shot a score like, 60- front-nine 60-back nine, and then you are with somebody who says that his net score is 68 or 70 and their net score, multiply by two is your my own front nine. I then concluded that golf is a calling and that I am not called into the life of golf”.
Today, those things he once detested are the things that lure him in.
“The green atmosphere, the fresh air, and the beautiful spirit of the people I play with. One of those people I enjoy most is Kunle Ogunleye, a former captain of Ikeja Golf Club. He is one person, who when you play with him he doesn’t complain about your game, he doesn’t complain whether you are slow or whether your score is too high. He doesn’t just comment about your game. He allows you to finish. But after the round, he calls to tell you the mistakes he noticed,” he said.
Though Joda has a couple of trophies to show for his efforts on the course, the one that is dearest to him most is the hole-in-one he recorded in 2016.
He explains it this way. “I am a very prayerful person but that day I did not pray. But just before I teed off on Hole -1, I dreamt I was going to have a fantastic game. I told myself that with my high handicap, I should be able to return fantastic a score. But by the time I played seven down on the hole 1, a par 4, I thought the game was over, but when I got to hole 2, my Caddie called me and said “Calm down, just enjoy the game, the beauty of the game is in participating. At that point I calmed down, then aimed a good shot, hoping to get as close as possible to the green. I just saw the ball in and couldn’t believe my eyes. That result came at a time that I was at my lowest ebb. I was going through a lot of challenges, so when I shot the hole-in-one, it ministered to me in a different way; that out of nothing something good can shine forth. I said this is the finger of God.”
That perhaps explains why to Taiwo Joda, “Golf is both a psychological and psychiatric tool.”