THE GATES OF BEIJING (5)
In which an American of no account is expected to teach golf to a group of status-conscious princelings at the Ming Tombs Golf Course even though he's never swung a club himself. Fore!
At the golf course, we were greeted by pert, uniformed staff who handed out equipment for those who didn’t have any and escorted us out to the green. As I loped along the neatly trimmed lawn, nonchalantly swinging my club like an old pro, it was assumed I could really play until it was really obvious that I really couldn’t.
Not only was I holding the club all wrong and swinging far too wildly, but I had trouble connecting with the little white puckered ball. The group’s initial charitable estimate of my golf prowess was further adjusted downward with every pitch and putt that followed.
Still, it was bracing to be in Huamei’s company, out on the links in the boondocks soaking up the late September sunshine. The driving, pitching and putting were but a sideshow to the cloud-marbled cerulean sky. Visibility was good due to the arid air and a high-pressure front. A moist oasis set amongst arid hills, the open, undulating expanse of greenery was a welcome antidote to the stone, cem…