A while ago I published a post about how to make a Pro-Am an outstanding and fun experience. The title was 4 Tips That Can Help You Survive in a Pro-Am.
Needless to say, a lot of golfers become nervous after they have accepted their invitation to a Pro-Am. That goes for those who are aspiring golfers (and maybe think they are better than they are) as well as for quite a few of those who are terrible golfers.
Much of the same goes for Celebrity-Am. You know, when famous people play (often bad) golf for charity with (often bad) amateur golfers. But there is really no reason for being nervous then? Well, golf wise there isn’t. But it’s a fact that a lot of people get very nervous when they are among people that are very famous. They’re afraid to mingle, afraid to start a conversation, and they laugh in all the wrong places and do clearly prove they are out of their league.
But then there are these rare occasions when you are invited to a Celebrity-Am, and don’t have a clue who (most of) the celebrities are. That happened to me. Once.
In my early days as a golf magazine editor I worked a lot with a Scottish pro on instruction articles. He, in turn, worked a lot with an English sports hero that had an ambition to raise 5 million pounds Sterling to charity. His way was golf Celebrity-Am events all over Britain. The Scottish pro got me in to one event in Manchester, which is not a very long flight from Oslo. I flew over, arrived at the golf course, did my registration and was told my tee-off time.
Also, I was given the names of the three other players in my group: Two celebrities and one amateur. Their names told me nothing.
I was informed there were free balls on the driving range and free coffee, tea, and cookies in the restaurant. I decided for the coffee, and entered a room packed with people. Being in Manchester, I expected to see some soccer faces. Which I did. Also I recognized a few faces from movies and TV-shows. The familiar faces counted for about five per cent of the restaurants occupancy.
OK. Not much to do about that other than to confess that I could have done with reading up on British celebrities.
Balancing my cup of coffee and my cookies I spotted a vacant seat at a table with a group of people with a laidback not-stiff-upper-lip look about them. I decided to take my chances and was offered a seat. My Scandinavian accent gave me away immediately, and the guy across the table asked where I came from.
I told him Norway.
«Norway? Hmm … Norway. I believe my show runs there, doesn’t it?»
I didn’t have a clue. I had no idea who that guy was, and neither did I have the guts to admit it. But my brain was functioning all right, and I reckoned he wouldn’t have asked the question if he hadn’t known he was being aired in my little country.
«Sure,» I said.
«And it’s actually very popular,» I added.
That was obviously the answer he hoped for, and he didn’t follow up on that. Instead we had a very nice chat about all other things than hi-fly life.
My tee off time drew closer; I found the practice green, the first tee and then my group of three other guys. One was an amateur, two were celebrities, but I found it too embarrassing to sort out who was who by asking. I figured I would learn it, eventually, by just paying attention to what was said between the players.
It took exactly three holes. Walking down the fourth fairway with one of the guys (the two others had fired their tee shots to the other side), he more confirmed then asked:
«You really don’t know who I am, do you?»
It was a direct statement where I saw no other option than to admit he was right. To that he remarked that he and Paul (obviously the other celebrity) had figured it out between themselves.
«And it’s so nice,» he continued.
«I do a lot of these events. I love to play golf. But a great deal of the fun is spoiled when the people you play with treat you like a divine dignity. That’s so different with you. You talk to me like you would to any other guy.»
The rest of the round was sheer fun for all four. The loose and casual approach also transferred to the fourth guy, who turned out to be an hotelier from Birmingham.
However, the moral of the story is better than the story: It summons up what golf is all about. It tells us that out on the course, we’re all alike.
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