Violence on the links

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
broken tees

all the damaged tees I gathered around this one hole

I don’t believe that golfers are more intentionally violent in nature than other people but I was made to wonder as I strolled a course called La Residence just outside Tunis.

On a sunny day as I headed walk to the far side of the course where it abuts the tidal inlet, I came across a tee that had been well and truly hit. Battered would be a better word. As I skirted the tee I saw another and yet a third. After I had come across a dozen or so all around the same yellow tee marker, I gathered them together to take a quick photo as who would believe the damage unless I had evidence?

Admittedly hitting from the yellow is for the able, the dedicated and the leisurely golfers who want to impress but was this hole so difficult that such a thwack was needed?

Without another thought I headed over to the far end of the course where, in August, flamingos stop off for a week or so on their way south for the winter. Up there, the sea can lap the reeds at the side of the fairways and birds warn of encroaching golfers. But do the birds have another purpose? Are they to warn golfers of an unexpected hazard?

What did a single, upturned shoe mean?

As the tide was out, I thought I would walk onto the mud flats to get closer to the birds. It was a pathetic task. Just as I inched within fifty metres, they decided this was too close for comfort. All I did was to find the odd ball that was the result of a poor fairway shot and which was half sunk into the mud.

That was until I saw an upturned sandshoe in the mud. It had probably washed in on the tide. Or was it, perhaps, the remains of a golfer who, having searched for a mis-shot ball, had been sucked into the flats like an Agatha Christie story or the villain in Conan Doyle’s, “The Hound of the Baskervilles?”   I had heard that membership numbers were dropping but I put that down to fewer Brits travelling to Tunisia.

bones in the sun and me photographing them in case evidence was required before the seas reclaimed the remains of the victim!

Alarmingly, a few paces ahead were bones, baked white in the scorching sun of Tunisia. Could this be the golfer? Instead of going forth to retrieve his ball had the person had a disagreement with a fellow player about where to drop the ball after a loose shot and been clubbed over the head with an iron? I was sinking in the mud so surely any clubbed body would be claimed by the unforgiving sands, never to be seen again.  If golfers could punish their tees with such a frenzied force surely they would be capable of assault on another golfer if rules or etiquette had been broken?

As a group of four players came into view to start their assault (bad choice of words) on the hole I left to return to the clubhouse thinking best not to be nearby if their shots went awry.

A gin and tonic later and I had forgotten the broken tees, the bones and the upturned shoe. Imagination plays tricks just like the golfer who claimed he would have had a hole-in-one of I hadn’t distracted him by walking on a far-distant path as he teed up on a par three.

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