What a feeling, knowing that Tour golf is back! It wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration to say there were times when I doubted we’d reach this point again, writes BRANDON STONE.
The world as we know it has changed in so many ways and golf isn’t immune to what has been going on. Covid-19 has been a game changer.
This break from golf was the longest I’ve ever been away from the game, and that’s not from a competitive aspect only, but even from when I was growing up. It really was a scary time, with so much uncertainty. But now my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Have clubs, will play, as the saying goes.
The European Tour has officially kicked off with the first six events in the United Kingdom. And I for one am ecstatic to be back at work.
When golf courses opened up in South Africa during level 3 lockdown I finally got to see a ball soar through the air again. Never did I imagine that the day would come when I’d be yearning to see the ball take off and watch its path into the distance, but that’s what it was. Much like everyone I suppose, the game was very rusty. The strike on the ball was horrible, that ball flight was inconsistent and my ability to ‘play the game’ definitely wasn’t as sharp as it was in March. But this motivated me even more. How could it not? When something you love so dearly is taken away from you, you’re desperate to get it back. I am no different to you.
Being able to go back to work and grind away is something I thrive on. I love the search for the perfect game – even if that search was cut somewhat short.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to catch a repatriation flight back to the United Kingdom where we have been living for the past while, and it meant we could finally get ‘home’ after an extended trip to South Africa. While this was fantastic it did pose another problem – we’d have to quarantine for two weeks. This had the effect of me having to take yet another break from the game, thankfully a much shorter one this time.
When the two weeks passed and I was finally allowed back to work again, I was more motivated than ever. Being able to go back to Queenwood Golf Club and grind away was an absolute pleasure. I was hitting hundreds of balls, rolling thousands of putts and nipping countless chips.
Walking those perfectly manicured fairways gave me a smile from ear to ear. My soul was happy once again.
It took the better part of two weeks before I finally heard ‘The Sound’. Tour players often refer to the best ball strikers as having a different sound when the ball leaves the clubface. I’ve often regarded myself as a great ball striker, so when I heard that sound my body was overcome by euphoria. My first thought was … I’m back, baby!
I wrote this column just a few days before the restart of the Tour but I’ve just got a feeling that the end of 2020 is going to be special for me and my career. It’s impossible to not be excited about what lies ahead. We’ve been through so much and even if it’s not over just yet, hopefully there’s only one way we’re travelling now – and that’s forward. Watch this space.