I’ve spent two weeks doing many things; eating, walking the dog, thinking, drafting blogs etc.. I really haven’t been sure what to write about, not because there aren’t things I want to say and messages I want to convey, but because those thoughts I’ve been having have been conflicting in a way. Dare I say it, my recent success has almost caused a sense of affliction, which in itself, is slightly depressing.
An example of this was the other day when after training, I fancied a coffee and some Thornton’s chocolates, as you do. I drove 10 minutes to the Orchard Centre in Didcot which has recently been renovated and now lies a Starbucks and an M&S food hall. I got my flat white and wandered up the hill towards Thornton’s, my mouth watering at the thought of demolishing a pack of Viennese truffles. Along the way though, I seemingly witnessed every man, woman and child, who while all appeared happy enough, clearly weren’t as privileged as me. Therein lies my first affliction; “but I’ve earned this privilege.” At this point I’m the recent beneficiary of being pretty good at something, though not sensational, but critically, now very wealthy. After all, only a few days ago over £500,000 was transferred into my bank account. Let’s go spend some money on coffee and fine chocolate. “At this point last year, I was probably writing a blog about Ryan Fox earning shit loads of cash and having the potential to buy a yacht, what is this system?” The irony. So I collect the chocolates, three packets for £9.50. Not cheap I know, but these aren’t your average chocolates. “There’s £10, keep the change, thanks.” The least I can do.
When it comes to money, I hope I have enough curiosity to stop it consuming me, and confusing me even more.
I remember back in February, sitting in my hotel room in Oman, talking to Jen on the phone and telling her how unhappy I was. I seriously did not want to be there. I wanted to be at home with her and the dog. I hadn’t played well at the start of the year and I was currently playing a golf tournament addressing the ball by the hosel, under the impression that I’d discovered something revolutionary that would change my form… Yeah, really. Fast forward a few months to the Monday of the French Open, and after another poor nights sleep due to a very un-British summer, the thought of travelling to France all of a sudden felt overwhelming. There wasn’t an ounce of me that felt ready to go and compete. I don’t like terms, but I was concerned I was depressed, or certainly experiencing an episode. So I withdrew right there and then without telling anyone. It took me an hour or so to tell Jen. I didn’t find telling her very easy. I lied to everyone else. I find lying generally despicable and soul destroying.
Here’s what’s crazy about being a golfer, and a human being I presume, is that days after feeling such emotions and having darker than ideal thoughts, you can go and achieve something really great. It’s totally fucking messed up. And that’s what leads me onto Form…
One thing Qatar and Scotland had in common, was that they both came after very recent emotional lows, if you like. But what makes them even more similar, is that in both cases I travelled to the event with something new to look forward to; working on form. (Technique) When I started with Simon Shanks (added his surname to bring some much needed comedy for a second here) in Qatar, we instantly worked on something new. As that week went on and as I obviously started to play better, which was almost entirely a byproduct of a new technical focus, my mental state changed. My alcohol consumption didn’t, but I’ll blame Dave at IMG for that. (… A theme is developing here…)
What I’d experienced in Qatar I then rediscovered in Scotland. I visited Mike Kanski (Phil Kenyon’s taller sidekick) at Formby Hall en route to the Scottish Open and we spent two hours together. It was an extremely productive session and we identified some significant technical flaws in my putting stroke. From there I continued on up to the Scottish Open with something technical to work on with my putting in the hope it would turn the ship around. It worked, and again, I was happier on the course, and in general. One thing I want to add about that journey to see Mike, was that Jen was instrumental in me going. We hit a traffic jam on the M40 and I was two hours late to the lesson. Mike kindly waited for me, but Jen forced me to go after I said a number of times how I should just not bother and get to Scotland at a reasonable time. Sometimes you need a reasonable person in your life, especially if you’re the golfer.
Success is so clearly down to the details you sometimes wouldn’t even consider.
So that privilege I felt at Didcot, was wrong. The money is what it is, but real privilege is having people like Jen, and Simon, and Mike. It affords me those Thornton’s. I suppose I’m still pretty sure It came about through decision making. After all, you need to plant the people in your life who give you oxygen when you’re most in need of it, like I was in Oman and the weeks before Scotland. So to them, the drinks are on me. 🍷