By NIMROD NL QUIÑONES
It skipped two years due to the pandemic but now the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub Golf Tournament is back.
This tournament, which I got involved in since 1992 is quite special as I have taken many roles from merely taking the dictation of the story submitted by my editor to being the person in-charge of a host club.
In the 1992 and 93 editions the PAL Interclub, my sports editor then at The Freeman, Glen Basubas, was the one who flew to Bacolod and Davao to cover the tournament. Since our office then did not have a facsimile machine, the story had to be called in and somebody on the other end will have to take the dictation, type the story (using a typewriter) and then submit it to production. I played that role for two years as assistant editor.
In 1994, I was already the sports editor then and I experienced my first-ever PAL Interclub in Bacolod City. It wasn’t really a struggle writing the pieces as by then I was already well-versed about the terminologies and the way the game was played having taken the dictation for two previous years.
I realized that more than a chance to rub elbows with fellow sports scribes and editors from Manila, it was also an opportunity to learn. I wasn’t playing golf then.
The next year, the tournament was still in Bacolod and that time I was already friends with many of the players from Cebu, thus I walked the course to follow them as they played to give me a better understanding of the game and to write a better story.
My life changed the year after that as I picked up the game in mid-1995 so in the 1996 PAL Interclub in Davao, I was already lugging my clubs to join the PAL Media Golf Tournament.
I was rookie of the year then having the best score among the newbies in the group. More importantly, I had the opportunity not only to bond with my friends but also play a lot of golf with golf rulesmen, who helped me navigate the complexities of the sport dubbed as a “gentleman’s game.”
It was much easier to figure out the rules than develop a good swing or consistency in ball contact, but at least I knew that I was doing the right thing most specially counting all the penalty strokes that I incurred and knowing where to make a drop.
Every PAL Interclub since then became a chance to play golf daily for a week and developing closer ties with fellow writers and editors as well as players from different parts of the country.
In the year 2000, my PAL Interclub journey took a turn as I was asked to play for the team of Mercedes Plantation Golf Club as they were lacking players and since I was already in Cagayan de Oro, I would allow the team to be eligible in terms of the minimum number of four players for a round.
In my first year as player, my scores counted on both days in the five-to-play, four-to-count format. Not that I played well, but because we were only four players.
The next year, the Interclub returned to Cebu after a long time as I was again asked to play for Mercedes, not because I was good, but because I was in the team the previous year.
My scores were forgettable but what really kept me going during the second round played at the Club Filipino course in Danao was that I was still two points better than the worst player in our flight after the front nine. I made two points in the Stableford Scoring System, he had zilch.
In the back nine he made one point and he celebrated while I made two more. Later when asked how I did I would say I made 22, but that in not my total as it is two in front and two at the back.
In 2002, the tournament returned to Bacolod and since I was going there early to cover the seniors’ event, the then general manager of Alta Vista asked me a favor if I can serve as the team captain of our club as the original players backed out on the last minute.
I also played in the team that year and edged our fifth player during the first round allowing my score to count for the team total.
The results of that sudden pull-out of the original team was a disaster in terms of scoring, but our team aptly dubbed as the ‘Replacements’ managed to raise Alta Vista’s banner despite the short notice.
That was the last time I was part of any team competing in the main event as since then just played in the media tournament finishing on the podium a few times before finally nailing the title when the tournament was held in Cebu.
Then I had already played several roles in the tournament including as GM of a host club and in 2019, I added another one to my list – I was one of those tasked to hit a ceremonial drive, which was repeated this year.
I did not join the media tournament anymore though as the task of being a host has become more complicated and draining, but this did not mean my heart did not bleed when I saw old and new friends from the industry I spent more than half of my life in tee off.
I do not know how long my PAL Interclub journey would be, but I still look forward to the next and hope that I can once again join the ranks of my brothers, now also sisters, in media as we play the sport that forged our ties even if many have moved on to better paying jobs or have retired.