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I’m sorry, there should be no place for ‘white elbows’ in our golf

GOLF By Vincent Wangombe | October 25th 2019 | 3 min read
Dismas Indiza makes a swing. [Stafford Ondego]

I have come to believe that tradition is a form of peer pressure from our ancestors. Try as we might, we find ourselves accepting certain things as normal without questioning how they came to be.

Take an example of the “white elbow”: something that the Kenyan mzungu community have learnt to use very effectively to get away from harassment from the police.

If for example one approaches one of those random roadblocks that are set-up by the police to check for drivers who have imbibed more alcohol than they should; the savant will calmly roll down his window and stick out their elbow.

Apparently, the moment the police notice that the driver is white, they don’t bother stopping them.

I have been told by a Kenyan mzungu, who has used this “get-out-of-jail-free-card” several times, that the police just smile and wave them through.

One school of thought of why this happens is that the white community do not give bribes and therefore the police are less inclined to stop them.

I tend to think that this is a habit that stemmed from the colonial era when the white man was the be-all and end-all of authority in Kenya.

It would have been a career limiting move for a lowly policeman to question the “bwana” or “memsaab” as the white men and women were referred to back then.

In Kenyan golf today, we have our own version of “white elbows”. They are flashed liberally by club officials who use their titles to get away with misdeeds that would get any other member of the club in hot soup.

Take the example chairman of one of the clubs who has been manipulating his handicap upwards using the office of the club’s golf administrator.

He did this for the better part of this year and would have escaped unnoticed had he not become careless and stuffed too many fake rounds of golf in the system.

Another oft-abused golfing tradition that is the ultimate “white elbow” is the captains-time.

In many clubs, the captain is never put on the draw and all he needs to do is show up at the tee and all who are drawn to play have to step aside for the captain and his four-ball to tee off.

The “captains-time” presupposes that they don’t have to be on the draw.

This is the ultimate abuse of power by those that are supposed to enforce the rules. The Rules of Golf do not provide exceptions for captains or chairmen of clubs in as far as keeping time and following the laid out draw.

If they happen to be late on the tee, they must also be punished the same way other golfers would have been.

Unfortunately, the job of being captain of the club is a thankless job. Members will have very high expectations of the captain while the Rules of Golf do not allow them to cut corners.

The best a captain can do is pick the most convenient time for him when preparing the draw.

Flashing a “white elbow” at the starter should no longer form part of his repertoire of performances before a round of golf.

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited

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