More important than my score, however, which was impressive for the wrong reason, was that I got to spend a gorgeous afternoon with three friends out at Yanai Country Club. Masa and Naito gave Kyle and I an excellent introduction to golf in Japan, and while golf is golf pretty much ever where you go, Japan still had plenty of surprises for us. My favorites were the strict adherence to O.B. rules (see below), the air powered blow off guns to "clean" your shoes before entering the clubhouse, the adaptation of every English golf term in katakana style English (strongly Japanese accented English that sounds nothing like English), the weird practice green and the caddie ladies, who in there massive yellow jackets and huge bonnets looked completely out of place on the course. I was also surprised at how nice the clubhouse and course were. They were very well maintained and felt like any other course you would find in south Texas, with mountains and hills in the background added in for extra scenery. The clubhouse's massive dressing room, hot springs bath and huge dining room gave it a very professional feel. It was clear that the Japanese take their golf seriously.
|The massive four person golf carts|
|Warming up the ole putter|
When the time came to tee-off, I was in the zone. Unfortunately the zone couldn't compensate for my lack of skill, and I shanked my first drive hard to the left into the dreaded O.B. - Out of Bounds. Now I know O.B. is an actual rule that is sometimes used on the PGA tour and other nice courses, but this was the first time I had played O.B. rules. I am used to the public courses in San Antonio where I shank my tee off to the middle of a different holes' fairway, hit it to the tee box of yet another hole, then finally get it back on the grass of the original hole I was playing to put it in. Under the O.B. rule, with the tee off stroke and two shot penalty, by the time you re-hit your shot you are already on your fourth stroke. It turned out to be the bane of my golf existence on Sunday (April 17th), and I racked up at least 7 O.B.s, resulting in 14 penalty strokes. Despite the penalties though the golf was a blast.
|"If you hit your tee shot O.B., please take your next shot from the tee ahead of you and count it as your fourth stroke"|
|Kyle getting ready to blast it|
Equally as fun as playing golf was playing golf while using only a foreign language. My and Kyle's quick adaptation and overly-obnoxious use of the Japanese sounding English golf terms probably annoyed Masa and Naito, but we couldn't refrain from using "nisu shato" (nice shot), "nisu on" (nice on) and "bunkaa" (bunker) at every possible opportunity. At one particular moment I had the self realization that I was in the middle of rural Japan, playing golf and yelling out "Sugeijan !!!" (a very slang word for "amazing") at the top of my lungs and I couldn't help but amusingly ask myself how on Earth I got to this bizarre moment in my life.
Score wise, I did have a couple respites on the back nine, and actually made par on hole 16. Kyle had a number of fantastic shots, and Naito and Masa played consistent the entire day. In the end though it came down to what Kyle and I called 楽しい第一 (tanoshi daiichi), or "having fun is most important", and in that we all certainly succeeded.
|The caddie ladies cleaning our clubs back at the clubhouse|