I remember when I was younger and I would watch Tiger Woods produce memorable moments, or watch a top sportsman pick up SPOTY award, I even remember a time when the X Factor would’ve given me a buzz. Back then it was more Pop Idol I guess and the excitement of having either Will Young or Gareth Gates be crowned our national hero. I’m not sure what’s happened. As we age do we just naturally become more tired and cynical? Why do I not care about who wins SPOTY this evening? How come I don’t feel anything more than pleased for someone when they have their career defining moment? Where’s the thrill gone?
Three weeks ago I met up with the Sunday Times journalist David Walsh. He wanted to meet me and have a chat, and I believe he wants to write a piece on me at some point. We had some interesting conversations and spoke for a good few hours. To my embarrasment, I wasn’t truly aware of just how prominent he’s been and continues to be in the world of investigative journalism. So for him to want to meet me, after losing my card and appearing to most of the outside world as just another golfer, surprised me. Until he mentioned my blog. His article will, I think, revolve largely around my blog, the things I write about and how this makes me different. This doesn’t bother me by the way, I’m pleased people are interested in what I write. But it’s clear to me that it’s difference people are now interested in.
David hasn’t been the only writer in touch. I’ve spoken with Alistair Tait at GolfWeek, Mark Townsend at National Club Golfer, and have even spoken with a Golf Club Wanker. My blog has been the common theme in all of these interviews. This isn’t meant to sound arrogant, but I can see how some people would be more interested in reading about my struggles on the course and my introspective blog, than hearing from Rory McIlroy talk about how he hits it so far. Few can relate to Rory in that way, whereas many can relate to me at the moment. But we as a society, are searching to find new, more interesting stories. The monotony of even great golf, or great football, will not fill our desires to be inspired or remain interested. It has to be something more. I think this is why I’m not interested in SPOTY, or Hideki Matsuyama at the moment, or Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve seen it all before. It’s grey and old now, impressive yes, but exciting no.
This leaves us in quite a perilous position because the purity of something now has to be sprinkled or covered with glamour or controversy. Uncreative this may sound, but I can’t see where we go from here with our stories. We must either ask so much more of subjects in terms of digging into their own personal reserves and expressing and exposing their innermost fears and desires, or we simply lie and embellish to make the story.
Alistair Tait brought up an interesting question when he asked me why I don’t love the game the way I used to. I said to him there’s two ways you can fall out of love with this game. You can either do what I’ve done and experience some technical issues which become mental anxieties, and under high intensity stress and pressure you collapse. Or you become a superstar and experience the pitfalls and pressures that coincide with that. I wouldn’t want to be Rory McIlroy, but I also wouldn’t want to be Eddie Pepperell again. Or Jin Jeong. Or Alvaro Quiros.
None of us started playing golf with even a shred of an idea of how it may turn out and what our futures might look like. If we did, we only envisaged us holing the putt to win The Open at St Andrews. We never pictured us double bogeying the last to miss a cut. We never imagined how it would make us feel to have to sign autographs for hours after a bad day. And none of us could appreciate what we felt back then; that the urge to want to play 36 holes a day because we were addicted, would gradually lift like a thick fog. On the flip side, I bet Rory never imagined he’d become so wealthy. Beef never supposed he’d be the face of a burger franchise in America. Adam Scott probably did know he’d become the face of Burberry. But somewhere in all of this madness lies the unsavoury truth that what we remember of our childhoods and the role golf played in it, has changed way beyond recognition into something so crazy, and so unimaginable.
I sort of want to vote for Danny Willett tonight. Not because I really like the guy, but because of how hard it’s looked for him to have to deal with becoming a Masters champion. People the other day were saying how average he had been since winning it… I was thinking, well, he did finish second on the Race to Dubai, have a baby, have to deal with being from Yorkshire… Not easy that stuff. But the chances are I won’t vote. I probably won’t even watch. There was more young people watching Planet Earth than the X Factor. I have one to catch up on. And maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that people are tuning back into more earthly, unprocessed things rather than the exhausted, consumeristic coverage that has numbed so many minds.
And I’ve just missed the bloody Sunday Supplement.
Have a merry christmas everyone.