Knight Jacques Kallis was par for the course on the RCGC greens twice this week, although he sat out KKR’s home match versus CSK at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
The avid golfer was at the country’s oldest gold club on Friday with KKR coach Trevor Bayliss, team CEO Venky Mysore and co-owner Jay Mehta.
“Would you like to play nine holes or 18?” asked Manmohan Singh, the CEO of RCGC, after receiving the pack of golfers who arrived in two cars sharp at 7.15am.
“No, no, we’ll play all 18,” smiled Jacques, dressed in a cool white tee and grey trousers.
Nothing less than a complete round of golf is expected from Kallis even as Calcutta reeled under extreme heat and many golfers had stayed away from the greens.
“Kallis is a hardcore golfer. He takes the game seriously, has the latest TaylorMade clubs and is probably one of the best cricketers who play golf. Back home (in South Africa), he plays with buddies and golfing greats Ernie Els and Peter Oosterhuis,” said former Bengal cricketer Joydeep Mukherjee.
“Kallis is good. So are Ponting and Brian Lara, a right-handed golfer but a left-handed cricketer. When he was touring, Lara found it difficult to get left-handed golf sets and so he simply switched to right.”
Mukherjee “plays with the KKR boys whenever they’re in town”.
Wednesday was no exception. He hit the greens with Wasim Akram, Ryan ten Doeschate, Morne Morkel and Kallis.
“It was too hot. We started at 7am on Wednesday and by the time it was 10am, it was just too hot. But I played 18 holes. This time, the heat has (taken him by surprise) but the team is doing okay, so the heat doesn’t matter,” Akram said after weathering the heat.
The former Pakistan fast bowler has played “twice in the past three days at the RCGC”. He called it “one of the best courses I have played on”.
“We got looked after beautifully. The greens were as good as any I have played in Dubai or Delhi courses. Historical course. Every time I play here, I love it,” he added.
The excitement was evident even on Friday as Kallis swung it long and hard. “Kallis was excited, very happy. He enjoyed the sun and took a break only after the ninth hole where he had breakfast at the 10th Shamiana with Bayliss, Mysore and Mehta,” Singh said.
Regulars at the RCGC got to meet the men in purple as a reward for braving the scorcher and making it to the fairway.
“It takes a tremendous amount of stamina and resilience to play golf in this weather. The number of members playing in the afternoon has reduced significantly. Kallis was here last year too and he’s a fantastic golfer, very talented and as good as a professional. When he’s on the course, there’s always a fan following… from caddies to members. They all stop to watch him play,” said Gaurav Ghosh, the club’s general committee member.
The veteran all-rounder swung it in style on Friday morning. “His short game is very solid. On a bad day, even when his tee-to-green is not A-game, he always has the short game to bail him out,” said Mukherjee.
His temperament is always as cool as the white tee he was in. “His temperament on the cricket pitch carries onto the course,” Mukherjee said.
“He is very serious. He’s a four-handicap golfer and possesses different gadgets that he uses to measure the distance. He is so proper and particular about his golf, a true professional in whatever he does,” agreed Akram.
What about the other cricketers? “Morne bombs the ball and ten Doeschate is hooked on, compared to last time when he was a bit of a hacker. He is always the best dressed!” signed off Mukherjee.