When the call came, it was all systems go. My husband David and I had been holed up in Johannesburg during lockdown.
But, we were desperate to get back to the United States in time for the restart of the LPGA Tour, scheduled for the end of July. After all, I’m a professional golfer and the game is my livelihood. No play, no pay.
We had applied for a repatriation flight to the US and finally got one. But it wasn’t straightforward, to satisfy US government regulations.
In this regard the LPGA Tour was invaluable with helping us get our work visas and clearances. Chicago was to be our destination and we’d be flying Emirates via Dubai. There were only five such flights and we had to be on one of them!
We live a mere 15 minutes from OR Tambo International but the whole process took around seven hours to board the flight after leaving our home. We were required to pre-check-in at a Sandton hotel and from there we were bussed to the airport.
As is standard in these uncertain times, face masks were compulsory for the entire journey but Emirates did a good job in managing the passengers and the flight. Some 38 hours later were arrived at Chicago, where we are staying with my brother-in-law.
I have played golf once since arriving here and the difference to how we are playing the game in South Africa is stark. There were no sanitising areas, no temperature checks and no need to write down your personal information for track and trace purposes should there be a Covid-19 case.
It made me realise what a fine job Golf RSA and golf courses around South Africa have done to make a safe playing experience since those lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Now that I’m back in the US, another big difference is the weather. I wasn’t used to the fresh Joburg mornings and evenings and hadn’t had a ‘real’ winter in about 10 years as the LPGA Tour tends to follow the sun wherever we play the whole season.
The focus is back on golf and I am really excited to be teeing it up when the LPGA Tour resumes. The LPGA Tour has done a great job in updating us via zoom meetings with back-to-play protocols and I feel very comfortable with resuming play.
While I am excited to be getting back to competing, it has also made me reflect on the schedule we should have had. We lost 12 tournaments due to the pandemic and this month I should have been in Tokyo competing at the Olympics.
I represented Team SA in Rio in 2016 and it was one of the best experiences of my life! There is no better feeling than representing your country on the world stage and getting to rub shoulders with the best athletes from different sports from around the world was mind-blowing! I really do hope we get the chance to do it again in 2021.