19 May 2017

Kenya: A Provisional Ball By Any Other Name

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Over a century ago (in dog years), I attended a nursery school that was run by an affable lady of Indian origin. The name of the nursery school was Park View Day Nursery.

This was also the place where I was acquainted to my first name, Vincent and the English language.

Due to the influence of her origin, our good teacher used to refer to me as Wincent Vagombe.

At the time, I believed that when speaking English, I had to pronounce my name the same way.

One time my Father's friend called on us and he struck a conversation with me. I still remember him asking "What is your name?" and I promptly responded Wincent Vagombe. When he referred to me as "Vincent", I corrected him "No! Wi... Wi... Wincent".

I outgrew my pseudo-Indian accent when I joined primary school. I was, however, tickled pink by the influence of a professional golfer's accent on a new golfer recently.

The new golfer had hit his original ball into a bush where it was likely to get lost. He quickly declared that he was going to play a 'professional ball'.

I chuckled thinking that it was joke.

"You mean 'provisional ball'," I tried to clarify so as not to fall afoul of the Rules. The player looked at me a bit puzzled. Then it seemed to dawn on him and he said "Aha... so that is what he meant to say!..."

He was learning golf from someone whose accent had a lot of mother tongue influence.

The Rules of Golf allow golfers to play a provisional ball if there is a possibility that the ball may be lost.

They must do so before they go forward to search for the original ball. They must also announce that they are playing a provisional ball. If they don't, then the ball is no longer a provisional ball but the ball in play.

The problem comes when some players decide to use Kiswahili or their mother tongue.

I have heard people using words like "ingine" and "tena".

These to me are not acceptable since their translations don't mean provisional.

When one says "ingine" which means "another", or "next", could they mean that they intend to put another ball in play? So if anyone says "ingine", they will not convince me that they meant to play a provisional ball.

A ball played after flippantly saying "ingine" would in my books serve as the ball in play and if the original ball should be found, it would no longer be in play.

I would, however, give some latitude to those that pronounce it as 'professional' when they actually mean 'provisional'.

There is also the question of whether one can play a provisional ball if there is a possibility of their ball being lost in a water hazard.

Take the 11th hole at Sigona Golf Club for example.

The reeds in the water hazard may prevent one from being certain whether their ball is the water hazard or not. A golfer who declares that they are playing a 'provisional ball' in such a case, is actually putting another ball in play.

Even if they find the original ball in playable position, the ball that was declared 'provisional' in this case is the ball in play.

The reason being that the ball would not have been lost in any other place, other than the water hazard.

The other misconception is that one can search for a lost ball briefly and then go back to where they had hit the shot from, to play a provisional ball.

The moment one goes forward to search for a lost ball, they would not be playing a provisional ball if they went back to where they had played the original shot.

The second ball put in play would actually be the ball in play.

They, however, would not be stopped from playing the original ball if it was found within five minutes and before they put another ball in play.

Next time you are playing a provisional ball, be sure to call it out before hitting it on the teeing ground, or dropping it anywhere else on the course.

'Mpira wa muda' is my best attempt at translating 'provisional ball' to Kiswahili.

I would love to hear from a Swahili aficionado if this is correct. What would the word be in your mother tongue?

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