Riding The Rookie Rapids

eddy: “A miniature whirlpool or whirlwind

It has been the weeks off, the hours of practice interrupted by kind and genuine people, that has made me realise the extent of my successful rookie year on the European Tour. To me it feels normal, I still hit the bad shots and feel the frustrations. Smash the clubs and growl at the referees. The bits few people see. But yet as time has passed by this year, I have received perpetual praise and endless compliments. I’m of course flattered and thankful, but there is a growing part of me that is becoming more and more uncomfortable. 

Recently I was in Oxford with my girlfriend and we were talking about a few random things. After five minutes she became irate and asked me to stop twisting the conversations into something related to me. I was shocked. I didn’t even know I had. Since when did I go from being single minded to self absorbed, I thought! (the line is fine but must be adhered to) I have changed slightly, and although I’ve felt aware of it occasionally it’s been pretty automatic and difficult to rebuff. It’s been challenging not to let all of the kind words infect the mind at least a little bit. It just seems that it’s always about me. The people I feel most sorry for are my family. My dad, brother and sister who all work in golf environments suffer constant enquiries about me. They have to explain the inexplicable poor finishes and numbers that scorecards read, many times over. They take the hit 30 weeks a year, I take it the other 22! I don’t want to sound ungrateful and we as a family do appreciate the incredible support I receive. (To have over 50 people travel to Portugal to watch me play shows just how popular my dad is!) 

 It was only when I read up on aspects of the human mind a few years ago that I came to understand how excessive praise can lead to complacency and other unwanted outcomes, therefore I am thankful to my subconscious for pushing the ‘be extra hard on yourself’ button. It’s the only way I know of stopping myself looking too far ahead. But that doesn’t come without problems. It’s a mix I’m finding to be tricky, but probably the most important thing I can learn. Success ultimately depends more on your perception of what the world throws your way than the hours spent on the driving range. 

 Maybe it’s not just me who has lost a slender touch on reality. After finishing double-bogey, bogey on the Sunday of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the headline in the local paper, which a few friends have amusingly renamed the ‘Pepperell Herald’, read ‘POOR FINISH COSTS PEPPERELL’. It did cost me some places, points and money but £29,000 is a lot of money. If my finish had of cost me my tour card I would have understood the potential rapacious implications behind the headline. But rather, in reality it has added to what they themselves have already labelled a fantastic rookie year. £29,000 is an amount that if offered 18 months ago I would have snatched with both arms. I’m sure the Editor would too. 

 I know rookie years in demanding environments teach you many lessons and I’m in no doubt that many of my counterparts and friends have had similar feelings. I feel fortunate to have another shot lined up at the ‘big time’ next year on top of what I’ve learnt. I am determined to remain the same Eddie despite the eddy going on around me. 

 From That Wise Old Owl, cheers. 


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