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Golf Balls, Entrepreneurship, Failure

Tags: ball
We lived in an area called Birnam in a street called Sunnyside Road.  Birnam ain’t what it used to be having  been obliterated by new age neighbourhoods and hideous car showrooms.
Then, we lived like it was an 80’s Spielberg movie. I rocked corduroys, and shirts with coloured edge-trim. Days were longer and my hair too. I moonwalked through life in north stars with Velcro straps and/or a pair of pocked pumas. I had a skateboard with gummy wheels and an all-legit hand-me-down bmx. We set up Centre court between house 16 and 18, and we skate boarded like tony hawk. We trawled the burbs waving at store owners and friendly neighbours like jayzee in harlem. We were proper neighbourhood kids. Life was good.
Birnam was a suburb of maybe two streets and we knew everyone in that duo. If we didn’t see other kids on the grassy pavements we’d see them at one of the many stores that offered coin op arcade games. And if a new kid moved into the area, or grew up to be old enough to walk the streets on his own, we’d be sure to meet their acquaintance at those same arcade-offering venues.
A 20 cent coin would get you one game. 20 cent coins were a major trading commodity. Back in those days, if you had a roll of twenties you were down-right minted. Any spare cash after the 20’s made neat piles five coins high was spent on hot chips or spicey samoosas at the local burger joint. It wasn’t always so easy coming about hard glinting currency. Birthdays were always a year away. We didn’t get much for channuka other than latkes, begging from your folks wasn’t so glamorous, and your bar mitzvah stash was probably locked up in futures or bonds.  so we needed to go about getting tom in our own very way like washing cars or ‘keep the change’ when you’ve just bought rolls at the Bakehouse for Sunday lunch.
So we had to find other means.
Our drifting radius extended as far as Wanderers Cricket Stadium to the west and to the Waverley squash courts to the east across Corlett drive.
Our primary school, Fairways Primary was well positioned for one of our many adventures.
The school sat hard up against the Wanderers golf course. By a combination of proximity and terrible golfing, stray balls would often come missiling onto our sports field like badly aimed rockets from Gaza. ‘fooooore’ would echo from the links vibrating off of the ‘protective’ eucalyptus trees forcing kids to drop hard up against the ground in that airplane brace manoeuvre. Me, I was just thinking, ‘that Ball is mine’, and there i’d be running like some under-attack soldier, hands on head along the beaches of Normandy as the Germans pelted the allies.
During cricket matches while posted on the fence, or while playing gainers during break time i’d too come across these mini meteors. And so I began hoovering them up.
 I began to understand on what particular days playing was most popular by the volume of balls that went astray. Saturdays and Sundays were helluva buoyant.

And so on weekends I’d trek up Corlett Drive, sneak into the primary school and head into the no-go-zone, the Kashmir, between the school and the golf course. I used to spend hours combing the area, scouring the long grass for balls. On a good day I could come home with ten or so goons. I became familiar with the branding- which balls garnered a hefty price, and which ball’s were termed ‘water balls’-those balls that you weren’t precious about and so were happy to see them fly out of bounds .  
I endeavoured to keep my golf ball spelunking  to myself, to keep it as much of a secret as possible. I did though let my boet in on my Indiana Jonesian escapades. Once he knew, the game changed. We needed now to increase the bounty.
And with that we became brazen. At the end of a weekend’s days play we would leopard crawl into ‘Kashmir’, hack our way to the giant sluice running along the edge of the fairway of hole 11, climb into the sluice and out the sluice via steel rungs embedded in the concrete walls, mount the diamond meshed fence, flinging ourselves over to land softly on the fresh cut grass of the Wanderers golf course. Using the giant eucalyptus as cover, we skitted from one to the next, eventually scuttling across the fairway like crabs across a deserted shoreline to land at the par three water hole. We had arrived, undetected. Welcome to the pay load.

Wearing my tightest speedo which would be my ball carrier, I slipped into the water. The floor of the pond, algae slimy slippery. Walking slowly, covering ground, my feet my eyes, i’d eventually stand on one. ‘Ooh, got one’, i’d shout, the adrenalin rushing harder than the high of a raver tripping on lsd. Curling my dextrous toes around the dimpled goon, like ball and claw, I’d clench hard raising the ball up to my knees so my hands could snatch it. ‘what is it, what is it?’, i’d hear from the side lines. Titleist, Pinnacle, Ping or some scuffed up drek.
With the sun close to dipped, the water turning dark and the pond mined, i’d heave myself out the oily water, jump into dry clothes and together we’d walk our way back home, excited by our haul. Back home we’d jump into the warm bath with our new pay load, cleaning each ball till it shined. In jammies we’d inspect each ball, evaluate it, set it aside, count them and recount them. The golden jewel, the balatas, the softest ball of the day was the king pin.
My parents owned a clothing factory, my mom designed and my dad did the sales. Their factory was in Corlett Drive just a flight of stairs up from the Mi Vami take out. Frequenting the area a lot, we came to befriend the big fat dudes who managed the store. One day we walked past the store on our way to my parents with a brimful bag of our day’s catch.
‘boys, let me see what you got’. Showing him our balls (no innuendo intended), he asked if we had more. Sure we did, numbering in the 200’s.
Doing one of the worst deals of our lives, we sold our supply of balls to this guy for a paltry R40. That deal subsequently left me gutted. And i’ve never forgotten.
Had we been taken for a ride, was it bad business?.
The new owners were going to pelt those hard earned balls into the sea on their summer vacation. The balls and our start-up. Lost forever.



This post first appeared on Scratchings Of Dan, please read the originial post: here

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Golf Balls, Entrepreneurship, Failure

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