On the first tee of the East London Golf Club (established in 1893), stood a group of cricketers taking practice swings before starting their round. Watching them with interest was a TV crew led by Mandira Bedi, a golf fanatic, who can putt but can’t play.
David Warner, powerfully built left-hander who plays golf with his right hand, appeared unhappy with his borrowed clubs. It is weird, he said, clearly not satisfied with the feel of his driver.
But when Warner stepped onto the tee, this did not seem to matter — his monster drive was bang on target, straight down the middle.
Warner looked approvingly at the ball sailing down the fairway, nodded at his mates and issued a friendly warning: Keep writing par-birdie-par on the card guys, he said breezily with the air of a person gifted with abundant self-belief. Such assurance is understandable considering he grew up on a golf course and plays to a handicap of six.
AB de Villiers, next on the tee, was a contrast to Warner's aggression.
Less adventurous, he used an iron and a much-grooved swing to put the ball safely into play.
Haven't played for the last seven months, he said, putting his club in the bag.
AB is a champion golfer — as a junior in school, when he had more time, he played to scratch.
On this glorious day, more than the score, it was the sheer relief of getting away from routine that was important for the cricketers.
The IPL is a high pressure, high intensity tournament, and with 14 games in little over a month, endless travelling and training, it is mentally and physically draining.
The golf was a stress-buster, competitive but relaxed. Players hit good shots, muffed others, there was much friendly banter and generous applause for putts made.