One Hundred and Fourteen metres, there is a gentle breeze from the left, the rain has cleared and it’s warm. We’re a few thousand feet above sea level, it’s a perfect gap wedge. It can’t be a sand wedge because that’s stranded up a tree 350 yards behind me. I got angry. So I take the club, aim straight at the pin and swing like I couldn’t give a monkeys. I’m 3 over par through the first 7 holes, over par for the tournament and missing the cut. An all too familiar feeling. I strike the ball well, perfectly in fact for this particular shot coming from the rough. Me and Jamie watch the ball closely as it’s heading towards the pin. Bang. Straight in. I’ve holed out for an eagle on my 27th hole. I throw the club in the air, laugh and smile at Jamie. We gaze at one another and I can tell he’s thinking how much of a twat I am. We walk 5 yards and he tells me because I’m now smiling that his grandmother died last night. I can see he’s holding back tears as he tells me and I curse at him for not telling me ten minutes earlier as the chances are we’d still have a 56 degree sand wedge in the bag. I try my best to console him. We get to the green, I repair the hole, my playing partners weren’t even aware I’d holed out. They can’t believe I didn’t make more of a fuss. We exchange a few high fives as I’m now back in 107th place and they ask what excites me? Not this game I reply.
Not this game at the moment is what I meant.
I stayed about 30 minutes from the course last week in Johannesburg. Each day it seemed we took a different route due to traffic. I love South Africa. I love it’s natural beauty and the red meat. We drove through some pretty tough neighbourhoods last week, one of which was a place called Hillbrow. As a European Tour golfer, I would estimate I experience a dozen courtesy car drives a year that remind me of how lucky I am. Driving through Agadir or Rabat in Morocco usually provides a moment of reflection and perspective, just like Hillbrow did. Wasting shots on a golf course is still better than wasting away on the street. Even though sometimes the pain of this game feels enormous, at least it’s a game. Except it’s not really, it’s my life, it always has been. And when you hole out with a gap wedge and not really care, it grinds away at you. To not care about something you care so deeply for is paradoxical enough to make you question certain realities and doubt yourself.
The life of a struggling golfer.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy. Which doesn’t bother me because all that matters is that you aren’t unhappy. And I’m not unhappy. The truth is I feel like I know how this will play out. I have got my focus back, I understand the role of time, I know every career has its ups and downs. I’m still standing far enough away from my own existence not to get bogged down in it. Hence the reason I’m not bogged down. After all, Hillbrow reminds me it could be far worse.
I know finding form will be easier than meaning.