I’m sure there’s a Chinese proverb out there somewhere that satisfies my thoughts, one that explains my downfalls, one that lays out my pathway to a brighter future, but nothing you read can ever replace the reality of something. I’ve always felt that even if the closest person in my life died, I could take it and move on, use it for motivation and inspiration. But the shock of reality is what gets you. Thankfully nobody has died, I only ‘lost’ my Tour card. The prospect of that happening never scared me, the future doesn’t scare me. But the shock of what happened in Portugal was something I wasn’t expecting.
Unfortunately 2016 has been the year I came to the realisation I don’t love this game the way I used to. It’s like being married to someone you have such a deep, inextricable connection to. It beats you up, yet you still come back for more. Don’t get me wrong I love the challenge of getting better, and I really enjoy being in the hunt on Sunday. That makes me feel alive. But golf has shown me it’s darker, more insidious side this year. Of course the irony is you only ever witness this part when you, the individual, start spiralling out of control. I’d say I started wandering the corridors of discontent with my game sometime last year, and I thought I knew which door I needed to take to get out, but yet I could never open it. That hasn’t happened to me for a while. I went from being a talented 18 year old, to a good professional because I used my brain and figured out what my weaknesses were and how I would go about fixing them.
For me, 2016 is full of lessons. I’ve worked tirelessly this year on the range, especially since June, and yet I hit it worse on the course. I’ve learnt that no matter how good you feel in practice, that sense of perfection gets thrown out of the window once you enter the realms of competition. Logically this game doesn’t make much sense. In competition it’s not about what you know, it’s purely down to what you do. I’ve learnt, not for the first time, that looking at your golf swing in slow motion on the camera, yearning to see better positions, guarantees you nothing. I’ve gone full circle in remembering that it’s the order in which things move in the golf swing that truly matters. I may be considered smart, but if I was as smart as some may think, I’d never have found myself in the position I am, because honestly, I knew much of what I needed to do. But sometimes learning is remembering, and that’s harder than I could ever have imagined.
This is where it goes even deeper…
Possibly darker too. I never envisaged that struggling on the course with my golf would have the impact it did on my mood. My quality of life waned as my golf deteriorated gradually and became more frustrating. I considered myself rounded enough not to let anything golf related affect my personal life. But the truth is, I had to eliminate many aspects of life to enable me as a golfer to succeed in the first place. I had to become my own best friend because growing up I sacrificed relationships for my golf. But that’s also why I’ve always maintained that the most important thing in life is to be a nice person, because careers come and go, but if you sacrifice being a good person in order to become a great achiever, you’ll experience the unintended side effects once it’s all over. And loneliness will probably top that list.
On a brighter note, Donald Trump could be president this time next week…
Putting the doom and gloom above behind, the future looks pretty appetising for me. I’ve figured a good deal out regarding my swing recently. Since the Italian Open to be specific. Physically I’ve changed things up a little bit, incorporating the two trainers I’ve been working with so that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. I’m looking to carry on the good form I showed at the end of this season into 2017, and indeed Q School before that. I’m spending Christmas in Bali with friends. I own gold so if and when Donald Trump does become president, I can sell it and live like an Arabian Prince for a while. And above all, I live 250 yards away from Waitrose which sells the best cake on the planet. Mary Berry ain’t got shit on this one let me tell you.
I wasn’t even going to write this blog, until Richard Ashcroft started playing on my Spotify. Any Ashcroft fans may be able to spot his influence in this blog. Blinding lyricist that guy.
As a friend text me recently who works on the Tour; ‘Sorry things aren’t as straightforward as you’d like. Tapestry of life etc…’ We wouldn’t want life any other way would we?