To the unassuming eye, golf is a lifeline on courses across Zambia as the game rambled back to life over the weekend following a month-long hiatus when it was handed Covid-19 immunity of sports on lockdown.
Golf, together with tennis, got the good news last Friday in President Edger Lungu’s bi-weekly Convid-19 update national address.
However, tee-off for now remains strictly a social affair with social distancing guidelines still the rule while all club house bars will remain off-limit’s for the thirsty.
Golfs’ return is especially a big relief for the caddies who charge for their services to carry golfers’ equipment.
Caddies jobs goes beyond the long five-hour trek carrying a loaded golf bag that can weigh anything from 15-20 kilograms on the rolling courses and keeping track of the players’ golf balls positions.
They also play the unofficial role of second opinion technical advisor to the golfers.
But over the last one month, their daily bread and butter was wiped-out to zero.
I got an insight into just how much the caddie and golfer relationship works from a playing member of Chainama Golf Club in Lusaka.
“The green fees are K100.00 while caddies fees per game are K80 but we end up paying K100 because of the silent tip,” the golfer said.
“They can caddie for two or three people in one day…early morning players, midday players and those late afternoon players. Other caddies even have full time bwanas who like pay them something more like salaries”
But with the lockdown, it tested that harmonious relationship.
“One called asking me to send money via Airtel money that he needed to buy medication at the chemist for his sick child,” he said
“Then I got a call that a caddie had died at Lusaka Golf Club. The person who called said they were merely calling numbers saved on his phone for assistance.
“I remembered the caddie because I once used him. I merely gave my number so that the next time my usual caddie was not around, I could use his services.”
And so the lifting of the golf club ban is certainly a welcome financial chip of the ball out of the rough and onto the safety of the greens but sadly where the shadow of a health bogey of global proportions still lurks.