50 years of golfing memories

With the end of 2015, it comes to my mind that it’s been 50 years ago, since I first started playing golf. I recall being introduced to the game in the year 1965.

Golf has been very much a part of my sporting and recreational life that I thought to write something down, to reminisce, reflect and remember the history of my golfing career for the past 50 years, playing mainly in Samoa, my beloved homeland.

My journey of playing golf started in June 1965 at the Apia Golf Club at Apia Park. As I lived nearby at the time, I used to watch “palagi” and Samoan women pass by to play golf, and so a seed of curiosity was planted in my mind, what it would be like to play and swing the golf club. Out of this curiosity, I made up my mind to play my first game of golf. 

I remember that first day I met many European women, wives of New Zealand, Australian and American expatriates, and Samoan women of mixed blood and ethnicity and also well-known business women in the Apian community.

I can remember some of these ladies by name, such as Tess McDonald, Frieda Paul, Tommy Burr, Sheila McDonald Edmonds, Aldyth Phineas, Gretta Percival and Dr. Mary Coldham.

To my surprise, swinging a golf club came to me very naturally. I believe this, because as a young girl, I used to like cutting our village grass with a Samoan grass cutting tool known as the “taivai” that resembles a golf club that you swung like swinging a golf stick to cut the grass, also using a machete was a similar golf swing motion to cutting the grass evenly.

Unknown to me at the time, my chores of cutting the grass at my village of Toamua where I was raised by my grandparents, had prepared me well to be good at the game of golf.

To my great surprise and to the surprise of many at the golf club, I won that week’s women’s tournament with my first game of golf and received as my first prize 1 pound and five shillings and one golf ball and my efforts made it into the sports section of our local newspaper The Samoa Bulletin.

That successful introduction to golf was a great encouragement to improve my game, despite a busy schedule and responsibility of raising a young family. 

My game improved to such an extent that I won the Samoan Women’s championship within three months, and the Women’s Club championship 1965, under the patronage and support of the late First Prime Minister of Samoa Afioga Fiame Mataafa Faumuina Mulinu’u II as the Patron of Apia Golf Club.

At this moment, I would also like to make mention of His Highness the late Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II Head of State of Samoa, for his support as Patron of the golf club and the consent of the new name of the Royal Samoa Country Club given to the club, with its shift to the new golf course location at Fagalii in 1969. 

I also acknowledge at this point the support I received from the presidents, club captains and the committees that served throughout the 50 years of my golf life.

I thank God for the talent and the blessing of playing the game of golf, that over 50 years I have won many tournaments both locally in Samoa and internationally. There were particular moments of pride when selected to represent Samoa in golf internationally at South Pacific games and other tournaments in the USA, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Cook Islands. 

A very special moment of my golfing life was winning two silver medals for the individual and the team categories at the 1983 South Pacific Games in Samoa. 

However, this was also a very emotional and sad moment for me having missed the gold medal by one stroke, after leading for most of the competition.  Nonetheless, I take pride in the blessing of having won the Samoan Women’s Golf Open and Club Championships for 18 years.

I have many fond memories of friends in golf in the past 50 years, some have passed away, and many close friends I continue to enjoy their company and friendship with some whom we’re still playing occasionally. 

I continue to play the game, though not as often as I used to, but I play occasionally in New Zealand and more often when I get to my beloved country Samoa when I meet up with my old friends and new friends and also at the new Faleata Golf Course.

Taito and I wish you all the very best for the New Year 2016. Alofa tele.

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