Golf is truly a gentleman’s game. But when I took up the sport, little did I know I that one day I would end up in a police cell. My crime? Slicing the ball.
Though this unfortunate, and hilarious, incident happened 25 years ago on a Sunday morning at Kiambu Golf Club, it is still fresh in my memory.
I and my brother Ashok, were eagerly looking forward to the much-awaited friendly match play against our opponents, Mahesh and Paku. This was going to be the fifth and final game of our series of five matches. The losers would have to host an elaborate dinner attended by spouses at a venue decided by the winners. “We must win today”, I told my brother as we drove to Kiambu. We had settled for an early tee off time… 7.15 am. We arrived at the Club few minutes before our opponents, enough time for little putting practice and some warm up.
There was an aura of excitement as we were all psyched up. It was indeed a tough match. As we stood on the 9th tee, the match was all square. “This is the moment to show these guys what I am made of,” I urged on myself quietly.” Mahesh and Paku drove fairly well. Teeing off before us by virtue of winning the previous hole, they perfectly smacked their shots straight and long splitting the fairway down the middle almost 300 yards! Not to be cowed, I opted for a more accurate club…my trusted 3 Wood. For those who play or have played in Kiambu, you know the 9th hole fairway runs parallel to the main road on the right. At a distance along the main road there is a church.
After the routine practice swing, I smacked the ball with a vicious slice, flying high over the trees and on to the road. We heard a loud screech of car brakes followed by a bang! Trouble. My heart sank, as something inside told me I had hit an on-coming car. There was pandemonium. Activity on the road came to a standstill as pedestrians rushed to the scene to catch a glimpse of this strange occurrence.
“Don’t worry, just hit another ball, that’s declared lost,” my brother encouraged me. I pulled another ball from my pocket and teed up. Panic-stricken, I hit an identical shot … same vicious slice over the trees, on to the road.
No need to play again, we all started walking towards the fairway. Halfway down to where our opponents’ golf balls lay perfectly on the fairway, three plain clothed policemen walked on to the course through the fence. With a Pinnacle ball in his hand, one of the Cops harshly asked; “Who does this ball belong to?” Being a gentleman, I was quick to admit that it was mine. Terrible mistake. The cops grabbed me, hands held behind my back, walked me through the fence straight to the “scene of crime”.
There we saw a police car which had veered off the road and now lying in a ditch. As we approached the car, I saw a ‘bullet-like’ hole in the windscreen with a person seated in the co-driver’s seat almost frozen! Luckily, he was not hurt but was in deep shock as the ball had missed him by a whisker. He happened to be a senior officer at Kiambu Police Station, as we learnt later.
We were hurriedly taken to the police station where I was charged for “attempting to shoot a senior police officer”. So for being a Sniper, I was bundled into a cell. My efforts to explain what had transpired fell on deaf ears!
My three playing partners dashed to the club and fetched the manager. After a lot of persuasion, I was set free, though my “dangerous” golf club and the “guilty” golf ball were detained as exhibits. This was after recording a lengthy statement and accepting to repair the police car. The Rest is a story for another day…
To-date I have nightmares of this day, but I thank Lord for it didn’t turn out to be fatal. I still struggle to understand why the ball chose this particular strange and dangerous target. But thanks to golf, I was momentarily declared an armed and dangerous criminal.