‘I’m an older immigrant woman of colour and golf clubs are bastions of decency’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 1, 2020 17:46

An Indian-born novelist who lives in Ireland has written about her love of golf to show that much of the current criticism at clubs is inaccurate.

Cauvery Madhavan, the author of three published novels, was writing against the backdrop of ‘Golfgate’, a scandal in which, so far, two senior politicians have resigned after attending a dinner at a golf club in Ireland in violation of coronavirus restrictions. The dinner was attended by about 80 politicians and government officials, even though some of them were responsible for bringing in a ban on large gatherings, and has led to numerous comments in Ireland suggesting that golf is associated with elitism.

Cauvery Madhavan. Image from Facebook (HopeRoad).

Writing for the Irish Independent, Cauvery said she wanted to dispel some of the myths that had been spread in recent days, stating ‘there are far more butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers of both sexes playing golf in hundreds of very affordable clubs than the misconceptions of elitism suggest.’

‘I am a golfer,’ she wrote. ‘There, I’ve said it. I’m an addict, unashamedly so. I’m one of the 150,000 or more Irish people that revel in the same wonderful affliction. I speak with the fervour of the converted because that’s what I am – a devotee at the green altar that offers hope, redemption and a chance to better yourself, and maybe even your game, every time you turn up to play.

‘I share every ordinary club golfer’s dismay that the game has been so thoroughly dragged in the mud by Golfgate – a reckless hotel dinner that has left every golfer in the country shocked.

‘Unfortunately, the sorry saga perpetuates the myth that golf is the preserve of a well-oiled male elite. The truth is, there are far more butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers of both sexes playing golf in hundreds of very affordable clubs, than the misconceptions of elitism suggest.’

She added that her journey to being a golfer is a relatively recent one.

‘All my life I turned my nose up at this game – after all, collective wisdom insisted it was for wealthy women who had time, money and nannies. To golf widows, I clucked my sympathies. To golf clubs, I spat my disdain. Plus, the world informed me that I had better things to do than spoil a good walk.

‘So what happened? I was 51 years old when my editor rang to say he was sending me on a travel writing assignment to Portugal. That was seven years ago and looking back on it, my trip to Estoril was more like my road to Damascus.

Image from Facebook (Irish Ladies Golf).

‘I had jumped at the chance of visiting the Lisbon coast, that was until I received the itinerary. I baulked when I realised it was a learn-how-to-golf weekend. After all, golf was for total eejits!

‘But let me take you further down the Damascene road to the famous Oitavos Dunes golf course. I paid polite attention to the golf pro as he took us through the basics of a golf swing. Ho-hum, I’ll give this a go till they let us head off to the beach I thought, as I picked up a seven iron.

‘To my shock, the club connected with the ball, which seemed to soar overhead, though landing only about 50 yards away. I looked around – had anyone seen that shot or were they all selfishly concentrating on their own swing?

‘I teed up again and again, smacking the ball a respectable distance each time till finally, the pro walked up to me. Of course, things went pear-shaped just when everyone was looking. Massive chunks of turf were launched into the air, while the ball remained stubbornly in situ. But, I had hit the sweet spot once and I was hooked. We moved on to putting and bunkers, and as sand and expletives flew all over the place, I discovered a game that I knew I was going to love.’

Cauvery then detailed the culture of golf – and why it is so special.

‘I was born again… on a golf course in Estoril. So what’s kept me faithful? It’s the commandments of the game. First up is honesty. The game requires you to call a foul on yourself. It’s this feelgood karmic part of golf that keeps the game fun and fair for all. Next is the requirement that your playing partner is just that – your partner first and opponent next. In which other game does helping someone find a lost ball, at the cost of your own score, matter so much? Absolutely no other.

‘Devotion to mindfulness is necessary, as better play comes when you switch off from your fraught life. This sets you up to return, fortified, to face said life. Forgiveness of the self is mandatory, while self-flagellation is discouraged. Ideally, bad shots are to be shrugged off. There is never anything to be got from burying your head in the sand. Surely there is a life lesson there.

‘Golfgate’ has become an international scandal

‘What other religion gives you a two for the price of one every time you show up, letting you worship at two altars? Golf courses are by their nature havens for flora and fauna. Having a fox run off with your errant ball or a swan chase you as you try to retrieve your ego from a lake is redemption of a joyous kind. Nature is a balm for the golfing soul!

‘I’ve saved the best for last – golf bestows on its followers lifelong friendships, the best kind. As a woman, an immigrant woman of colour, an older immigrant woman of colour to boot, you would think a golf club would be the last place to welcome me. Let me tell you, it’s been exactly the opposite. Golf clubs are the bastions of decency and fair play.

‘So I say it again – my name is Cauvery and I am a proud golfer.’


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 1, 2020 17:46
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  1. djm September 3, 11:11

    Idiotic & inaccurate initial 2 paragraphs.

    The opprobrium directed toward the Irish Parliamentary GS & their guests has nowt to do with the game itself,
    but rather the way the self serving political class regard themselves as being above the Laws they are so keen to lay down on the “little people”.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jimbop August 29, 12:57

    The golf courses I have played at and been member if have been racist to the extreme. The banter would be arrest able out of the golf course. Elitism in golf died decades ago when it became affordable for the working class man.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Gwynbach August 29, 09:16

    What a delightful article. Just about sums up everything that is good about the game of golf.
    Great days on the course are not determined by how well you play but by the people you meet.
    Elite sport? No chance. I’m a lorry driver and the people I will be playing with today are: An Avon lady two retired miners, a builder, an electrician and a retired house wife. Hardly elite, are we?

    Reply to this comment
    • Scottish golfer August 29, 18:48

      What a wonderful article, this isn’t just golf it should be how life works. Si k to death of middle class halfwits moaning about everything. They need to realise change doesn’t happen because of idiots like them. Cauvery, I applaude you. Thanks for such an uplifting story about our game and the people who play it

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