General Admission

The mentor and the student

By Al S. Mendoza


BAGUIO CITY—God permitting, I will be here up to December 15.

It is in fulfillment to a commitment etched in stone: Act as Rules Man when requested to do so.

It’s been that way since I was asked to referee the Fil-Am Golf Invitational more than a decade or so ago.

I started in the company of Taby Tabaniag and Jake P. Ayson.

With Taby gone (RIP, Insan), Jake and I have resolved to continue the job for as long as we are able—and our services are still needed as well.

Thank you to Anthony de Leon, the dapper general manager of Baguio Country Club who has never wavered in his trust to continuously tap us for the Fil-Am job year in and year out—with the concurrence of Atty. Rico Agcaoili, the BCC president.

It consumes much of our time but Jake and I just couldn’t resist the urge to serve when the Fil-Am fever comes around at this time of the year.

It’s become like an itch we just couldn’t ignore.

Jake and I love golf that much that learning the game’s rules has become a passion packaged into the sport.

With the onset of Fil-Am golf, we miss a lot of important tasks back home but always, we don’t mind.

Sometimes, good money in Manila would be washed down the drain just so we could fulfill our Fil-Am duties.

But what is money, indeed, when another calling means more to the heart than the pocket?

And yet, the Fil-Am golf invitational is not a picnic but entails a lot of work.

We referee more than 200 players a day for two weeks as the marathon event is the world’s biggest golf ever, participants-wise.

And by handling the job, Jake and I encounter not just minor glitches but some major headaches as well.

There are hotheads who would simply refuse to accept decisions adverse to them, at times ending up as your bitter critics, if not enemies.

That’s always a risk Jake and I must face every year that we work the rules of the Fil-Am golf.

Our loved ones back home are not remiss in reminding us of how much they miss us while we are in the Fil-Am golf.

And why we prefer more to render decisions at times that draw tirades from irate contestants than “to be with us enjoying quality family time.”

They tell us, “We are not wanting in money so why the need for you to be still working far from us, at such a long time yet?”

Actually, for Jake and me, it’s not the money but the enjoyment of fulfilling a passion related to golf.

We’ve been to golf seminars both here and in the US if only to broaden our knowledge of the rules.

Next year, more than 30 new rules will be in effect, making Jake and I review the new rule book from page to page once again.

Personally, I don’t know when will the urge to continue being a Rules Man vanish.

Jake is pushing 76 and he seems still bent on pursuing the vocation.

I don’t know, but once Jake retires, so will I.

The student just can’t move on without the mentor.


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