Most Arabs and in particular Saudis, do not golf. This is likely because they come from the desert where golfing is not a typical past time. While in Pakistan, Abdullah was intrigued by my dedication to the game of golf.
“American Girl,” he would say, “How can you enjoy just hitting a small ball with a long stick all day? What kind of fun is that?”
“Ah, Desert Boy, it is much more than just hitting a ball.” I’d tell him. “There is an intense satisfaction when you know you have mastered control of that little ball and know when you hit it, how high it will go and where it will land. Golf is also a great way to meet new friends and to relax. While you may play in a group with two, three or even four, you are still playing your own game and seeing how well you can play. You need to come with me and try it for yourself. I am going to Muzafarrabad next weekend to play. Come with me.”
Muzafarrabad is the capital of Azad Kashmir and had a scenic golf course nestled in the hills of Kashmir. The golf course was run by the Pakistan military and diplomats were welcomed to golf on the course. I ilked to go to the Muzafarrabad golf course occasionally as the Islamabad golf course was always very busy on the weekends. Whereas the Muazfarrabad golf course did not have as much traffic on its greens. It was an ideal place to take a beginning golfer like Abdullah.
I borrowed a set of mens clubs for Abdullah’s use. My favorite caddy who also gave golf lessons accompanied us. He would assist Abdullah. I was left handed which made it difficult for me to teach Abdullah on how to hold the clubs and swing. I wanted him to enjoy this game and felt that a good instructer who doubled as his caddy would help make it a pleasant experience for Abdullah.
I should not have worried. Abdullah demonstrated his natural athletic ability instinctively posturing himself that when he swung his club it connected strongly with the ball. With a resounding “clap” the ball arched high in the air and easily traveled straight for 200 yards down the fairway. Abdullah turned around to me with a broad smile on his face, “Did I do okay? Did you see how high and straight the ball went?” He already knew that he had done more than okay since I had been telling him throughout the drive in the car how important it was to connect solidly with the ball and for the ball to remain on the fairway. Because we were in public I restrained myself from giving Abdullah a congratulatory hug over his first successful drive and instead settled for exchanging a high five instead. “That was more than okay, Desert Boy. Are you sure you have not been holding out on me and actually have been golfing for years?” I queried. He gave me a warm smile while responding, “I’d never hold back with you, my American Girl, and I now understand why you like this game so much.” From that point on he was hooked and would even go to the driving range or golf course without me.
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