Why I Won't Be Joining the Rush to the First Tee
I HAVE missed golf. Of course I have, all the more so because I spend so much of my life writing about the sport. And these past few weeks have been especially tough since I have written so much about the challenges we are all facing as golfers and as human beings.
I picked up a golf club for the first time when I was about five years old and my grandfather dragged me out, whether I liked it or not. I have had four holes-in-one. I have broken par. I have had days when I have been unable to hit a barn door and struggled to break 90. I have holed huge putts. I have missed tiddlers.
I have had some of the best experiences of my life playing this amazing game, and have been fortunate enough to have done so on some of the finest courses the planet has to offer, playing alongside some fabulous individuals. I have stood on the 18th fairway on the Old Course at St Andrews and felt privileged to be following in the footsteps of golf’s legends.
I have watched professional golf up close and personal. I have interviewed some of the best players in the world. I have attended Ryder Cups, I have attended majors and I have watched countless European Tour events. And every Sunday night I have sat down to watch the conclusion of that week’s PGA Tour event.
I have seen some magical golf shots being played. I have have witnessed incredible bursts of scoring and gut-wrenching collapses. I have watched temper tantrums. I have watched in awe as the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have produced shots that defy belief. I love golf in all its forms. Good and bad. I have had the unforgettable experience of being a club captain, with everything that entails.
I consider it an honour to have had the opportunity to pontificate about this astonishing sport and the people who play it.
But have I booked a tee-time as the game returns in England? Am I going to be joining the rush to play again? No.
Am I the only one who is struggling to motivate myself to get back out there?
I certainly don’t want to play on my own and, since I live by myself, I am unable to enjoy the experience with anybody else from my household. There are lots of people I could phone and ask if they fancy joining me in a two-ball. And I have had those conversations with several friends, and they all feel the same way that I do - they are simply not ready to play again under the prevailing conditions.
Do I want to pull up in the car park, get my shoes out the boot and put them on while sitting in my car? Do I want to head straight to the first tee with whomever I have arranged to meet? Do I want to lift my ball from a bunker because my club has designated all traps as ground under repair? Do I want to putt to upturned cups? And when it is all finished, do I want to walk off the 18th green without shaking hands with my playing partner, head straight back to my car and head home again? No.
I guess that we all play golf for different reasons. When I was younger it was all about competition, trying to shoot the lowest score I possibly could, or trying to beat the brains out of the guy I was playing against. I didn’t always enjoy it, but I was addicted to it.
But as I have grown older, for me golf is all about socialising with the people I play with and having a laugh with fellow members in the clubhouse afterwards. We used to sit around and talk about our jobs and cars; now it is about sharing ailments, listening to people talking about hip and knee replacements - and laughing about it. And then looking forward to do it all again a couple of days later. And enjoying it.
Am I looking forward to seeing Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson taking on Matt Wolff and Rickie Fowler this weekend? Not really. I will watch it. Of course I will. But there should be fans.
The PGA Tour returns in June and I will be previewing tournaments, just as I have done for years for Golfshake, but I just cannot get my head around somebody holing a winning putt and celebrating without fans whooping and hollering. You know what? I may even miss the idiot who yells out” “Get in the hole”, when McIlroy hits his drive on a 456-yard par four.
I have paid my annual subscription and I have not asked for refund. I haven’t hit a golf ball for weeks. When I know it is safe to do so, I will find a driving range and go out and hit a hundred golf balls and I will enjoy doing so - well, maybe not the first 30 or 40 shots. And of course I know that as I continue to write about the game and read people’s experiences on social media that the bug will bite again and I will head back out there. But, for now at least, it is not for me.
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