My drive from the third tee and the conversation following it changed my life forever.
That day I had landed at the golf course without a plan; I often do. Bansi, the Starter let me tee off with another golfer waiting to start.
He was a Sikh gentleman. He must have been in his early seventies; his grey hair and thick glasses suggested so. In his appearance, he resembled the legendary Khushwant Singh. He walked slowly and deliberately. He swung equally slowly with a perfect follow through. He must have been a very good golfer in his heydays. He was hitting short distances but his ball was following the path intended and directed by him. On the first hole he missed a five-foot putt and a par by a whisker. I barely managed to get a bogie.
On the second hole he got an easy par; I missed it narrowly.
The third fairway at the Race Course Golf Course is narrow in the beginning and widens in the later part. There are OBs on either side. One has to hit a long straight drive to be in a comfortable position for the rest of the par-five hole. He cleared the first hurdle comfortably.
It was my turn to tee off. I placed my ball on the tee; walked back a few paces to align myself and took stance. I thought of some of the 50 and more elements that go into making a perfect drive: the grip, the stance, the swing, the follow through, the transfer of weight, eye on the ball etc. I must have done really well at that because it was a long and straight drive, way ahead of the Sikh gentleman. There was instant accolade from him. “That’s a marvellous hit,” he said.
As we walked down the fairway to play our second shots, he appreciated my drive. The praise from the otherwise quiet man filled with joy and pride. Outwardly I didn’t express much; I wanted to be modest; look modest.
“It just happened. I didn’t do anything. I just struck the ball, said “Wahe Guru” and prayed that it went long and straight.”
“Come on! You can’t get this good result with prayers alone,” he said. “You surely have worked hard for it.”
I tried to look even more modest. That’s when he narrated this story and I reproduce it:
“A Sikh youth was looking for a five-rupee coin that he had accidentally dropped in wet mud. He was praying to the gods to help him find his coin. There was a peculiar thing about his prayers––he was praying to all the gods other than the Sikh gods. When a curious bystander asked him, why he was remembering the other gods when his prayers could be (obviously) responded better by Guru Nanakji or other Sikh saints, he said, “Come on! Don’t expect me to ask Guru Nanakji to go into the mud for my five rupees. I’ll bother Him when I have a bigger problem or need. If I keep bothering him for petty things, He might not come to my rescue when I actually need Him.”
Returning to my good drive and prayers to Nanakji, he chuckled and said, “Don’t bother Guru Nanakji for small things in life. Save your prayers for the day when you are in dire need of His intervention.”
The message was loud and clear. That moment onwards, I have always done my bit; and done my bit well, and never nagged God for small favours.
Pray, I still do.