What's a four-ball? you might ask. The answer is pretty straightforward: four people playing golf together. But four brothers in a four-ball?
Believe it or not, we have such a group here in Kathmandu whose members play together now and then. I can assure you it's not at all common to find a four-ball comprising of brothers.
Three brothers of this family religiously visit the course almost every day. Yeshe Tsering (60), Lobsang Tenzing (58) and Lobsang Tashi (52) not only golf together, they go out in the evenings as a group as well. What's humbling is to see their genuine respect for one another, the way they inspire each other and how they are bound together.
In Nepal, joint families are common but it is not often that we see them sharing interests and circles of friends. This group of brothers sure look like an encouraging exception to the social rule of discord that is so prevalent nowadays.
Eldest brother Tenzin Choegyal (62) who is not in the photo below, is known to be a workaholic. He plays just occasionally and sometimes joins his kin on Saturdays to complete this dream four-ball. When I caught up with them recently, Tenzin was once again away on a business trip. I cornered the 'younger' threesome over a cup of tea after their daily round and gleaned some reflections of their golfing experience.
Introduced to this sport about five years back by their cousin, Lobsang Tenzing reflects wryly, "I originally thought golf was a boring sport. I never imagined I would catch on to it until that day in the millennium year when my cousin brought me over to Gokarna Golf Club. Once I was here I actually first fell in love with the natural surroundings; so clean and green that I felt at one with nature. I started hitting the ball and as soon as I could get it airborne, I was hooked to the sport as well."
Lobsang was a runner-up in the recently held Gokarna Open Golf Championship and has dropped his handicap to 21. After a smile and a pause Lobsang adds, "I know that I can't be a champ after having started this game so late, however I am so pleased to get some exercise daily."
Says Yeshe, "I know I have added 10 more healthy years to my life after having started this sport. I play nine holes five days of a week and 18 holes two days. These early morning nine holes rejuvenate me and help me stay in high spirits at work." Yeshe plays off a 19 handicap and has won senior titles a couple of times. He is very particular about being punctual with everything he does.
The best golfer and the youngest of the brothers, Lobsang Tashi, plays off an 11 handicap and aims to be in single digits by the end of this year. Very rarely does he miss winning a prize in any tournament that he competes in. He recalls, "When I just started golf, I lost about 10 kg in two months and Yeshe dai suggested I see a doctor. After being tested, the doc handed me a clean chit when he realised I wasn't sick but just getting fitter! I used to play twice each day-morning and afternoon."
When I asked these brothers how they were so intact as a unit, Yeshe replied, "Principally, we respect seniors. We hold a great deal of value for seniority in our family. We've been together and very close for many years now. It's not only just us brothers, our cousins are also close to us and we are all good friends, and it feels great."
Their wives reacted the same way, very positively. They are delighted that their husbands play golf and no longer waste valuable time playing cards and Mahjong late into the night.