Life on Tour isn’t what you think it is. Picture for a moment entering your 5 star luxury room, incredible furnishings and a bathroom worthy of the Julius Caesar, it’s beautiful. What would be one of the first thoughts that enters your mind? For me initially it was wow! But what followed was the saddening reality that i’ve got nobody here to share it with.
I can imagine a few sensitive, caring people (Mum’s mainly) reading that and thinking oh how sad. The majority however and certainly the male population will more likely be thinking get on with it or you shouldn’t be complaining, you’re playing for loads of money. After all that’s partially what I used to think. But it hasn’t taken me long to experience the compelling nature of what life is really like being a professional sportsman. I have been amazed at the number of players who have either their wives, girlfriends, parents or friends here with them this week. At first I thought, seriously? Have they not got a life of their own? However I quickly recognised my ignorance and reminded myself of the fact that nobody likes being alone.
When I look back, my first week as a professional golfer encapsulated many of the annoyances and difficulties faced by sportsmen…
I was playing in Tuscany on The Challenge Tour. The week previous I teed in the Lytham Trophy and that whole experience made me feel wonderful about my decision to turn pro as the conditions were just brutal! Safe to say I was looking forward to getting started on my new adventure! (like Bilbo and his adventure I suppose) On to Italy and I was staying in a small, rural hotel about 30 minutes from the course, needless to say I was on my own and without, unbeknown to me then, my future best friend, WiFi. That wonderful vindictive feeling I had a few day’s before soon evaporated as I arrived at my hotel from the airport via Taxi which set me back the (foreigners I’m sure) fee of 215 Euro’s. That sum however proceeded to escalate as the week progressed as I amassed Taxi costs of over 600 Euro’s travelling back and forth from the Golf Club. There is a Taxi company in Italy that avoided the financial crisis. No book, no WiFi and no friends. Dinner then was where I thought it could be at. I casually strolled over a motorway to find a Steakhouse, a type of restaurant usually fraught with Golfer’s… Not this one. What I found was a regionally famous steak restaurant infested with overweight Italian lorry drivers. Quite literally 50 Eddie Stobartio’s! Although the steak was sensational, the company was loud, hairy and sweaty. Six nights of this was enough and I was very pleased to find myself on a Ryanair flight home, which in itself is incredible…
That particular anecdote I now find pretty amusing but the only reason the memories are so vivid is because of how lonely I was. It was pure torture. The only time I opened my mouth was to tell my Mosquito friend to piss-off.
Twenty months later I find myself in a plush hotel room in Abu Dhabi writing a blog undoubtedly inspired by boredom. The trivial differences this time are the lack of mosquito’s, the lack of hairy fat men and the life-saving option of room service, which is surely an idea invented by loners for loners. (There are still some hairy fat men over here but they cover themselves in white cloths) However the agonies of loneliness still exist. The painstaking hours spent reading books and watching foreign TV is really quite tough at times. I acknowledge that these moments of loneliness subside over time as you make friends, but at the beginning we are all new to things, therefore at some point everyone must have had similar experiences.
I used to look at a newcomer on tour struggling and think something like, he probably can’t putt or his swing is the problem. Now I can’t help but place a much bigger significance on the lonely aspects of his new life rather than his actual game.
My early experiences confirm what I previously believed; that to succeed out here, it’s important to be good, but it is infinitely more important to be tough.
I’m not seeking any empathy in writing this blog, I’m merely trying to bring what is a very difficult part of professional sport to our attention. The amount of idol time spent some weeks is mind destroying. (A possibly pretentious and diverse thought just appeared in my mind and I have to divulge; just as the retired become grumpy and occasionally pedantic the same applies to Golfer’s. Idol time changes you. Too much of it and you soon start to see how films such as The Matrix were fabricated. Indirectly then we Golfer’s retire parts of our minds so early that the grumpy habits we attain are inevitable and therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise)
So as I finish my Bailey’s which arrived by my side thanks to a lovely man whose job it is to provide nourishment to the introverts of our society, I want to assure you that I am not suffering from post turned-golf-pro depression and that I see these experiences as completely necessary in order to climb the ladder.
Best regards to everyone and have a wonderful Saturday evening, especially to the folks back home in the snow.
Quite literally cheers.
That Wise Old Owl.