Jamaica me crazy

on the course, part of the original irrigation system, 1760

Watching today’s final round of the Masters was difficult, so much ice and snow outside was annoying, my heart kept going to Jamaica.   Jamaicans are some of the best golfers and nicest people that I have ever worked with.  And their caddies are the best in the world – in 2002 our Cinnamon Hill caddies were named #1 by THE GOLFER Magazine (Bartlett, editor).  This was like winning the Masters, or maybe the World Cup of Cricket!   Our caddies were/still are, professional caddies, unlike the next-door White Witch female “caddies” in their white jump suits.  The Ritz Carlton’s White Witch had brought the magazine down to Jamaica, it back- fired as OUR old guy caddies won, they weren’t happy. Neither were the Scottish caddies!

When the Jamaican Amateur team was getting ready to play in the Caribbean Championships I invited them to play a team of our caddies.  They declined, knowing they couldn’t win one match, it wouldn’t create the confidence needed.

Anyway, I called the caddy shack today, to see if the TV was still working and to find out who they thought would win the MASTERS.   They speak Jamaican Patois, a language that can not be standardized (educators have been trying for a hundred years).  It’s a mixture of African/English/French and fun!  I used to think they just made it up to confuse me.   The call got through, I was greeted by dozens of people all talking at once, until they found out it was da Pro, Gary.  The good bakra!    Bakra is a whiteman, probably comes from a time when the bakra whipped their backs raw.  I didn’t.  I fell in love with da boy em.

Wi o kum Calgary sun“.   I told them they couldn’t come to Calgary, Jamaicans were still way behind Fillopinos at immigration.

I could hear someone say “a summatime noh, im wanga gut, salt“.    Basically that meant it was summertime there, so tourism was slow, they were hungry, and broke. Nothing new,  so to change subjects I asked who was going to win, Tiger?

Tiger!, one wicked sambo man dat , samfi man“.   So, I said “Wa mak Tiger wicked?”     “Im a obeah, all sheg up, stoosh, hitey hitey“.   I was lost, and asked who was the Head Caddie now? “Who a di leada?”   More laughter and sata but they were all talking rubbish, hopefully celebrating (sata) the fact I had called the caddy shack.

We would call it a caddie shack, but the fact that it has a concrete floor, a TV, a fridge, a washroom, doors and windows, and a phone make it a very nice place to go each day.  I was always amazed when our guys arrived each morning, all with clean clothing (not pressed but clean) and shining smiley faces – I’d found out how tough their life was, but Jamaicans are the best at handling “issues” that I have ever met.  Go there and find out, it’ll change your ideas of the place.  But don’t try to learn patois, it takes years and by the time you learn enough to order some good jerk chicken, they’ll change the words.

Cinnamon Hill’s 18th green

Just before the line went dead I did hear one of the guys say “Dem Rules guys, punish the wrong Guan”.   I agree.


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Gary Slatter

Venerable Canadian golf pro Gary Slatter discusses his opinions on the state of golf, golf course design and construction, teaching and more, based on a lifetime in the business.

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