Compleat Golfer’s playing editor is one of the most transparent voices in the game. Here he opens up on pressing the reset button.
The past four months have been the longest time I’ve spent in one country, never mind being at home, since I was 16 years old. And you know what? It’s been incredible.
At the end of last year, I knew I needed some time at home. Some time with family. Some time with friends. But looking back now, I never realised how much I needed it. I’ve loved every second of being home. And you can see that from my results over January and February.
Playing the Sunshine Tour’s co-sanctioned events with the Challenge Tour was great fun. Playing courses that I haven’t played in years and getting to know all the young guns on the Sunshine Tour, and not having to get my passport stamped, was so enjoyable.
I played some great golf over the events too, which is extremely motivating going into the rest of the season.
We started the year at Royal Cape for the Cape Town Open. I played some super-solid and consistent golf over four days, leading to a top-10 finish at the first event of the calendar year. That was a great way to get going.
Following that, we made our way down to the gem of the Southern Cape, Fancourt. The Dimension Data Pro-Am has been crucial to the strength of the Sunshine Tour for decades now, and Fancourt is the perfect venue for such an event. The event itself is always a challenge as we play three tricky courses, alongside an amateur partner, and the weather can be unpredictable at times.
My amateur partner, Paul Botha, made the experience one of the most enjoyable I’ve had. Simply because the man could play some serious golf. That, accompanied by some solid golf on my behalf, made the week successful. I managed another top 10 while Paul and I made the amateur cut, so overall it was another super-successful week.
We then found ourselves in the Limpopo Province at the ever-popular Zebula Golf Estate. It was an extremely low-scoring event, so any sort of mistake or fault would see you fall down the leaderboard at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, that was what happened to me on Sunday. A horrid first nine holes ruined what could have been another solid week to build on.
That was disappointing, but I didn’t feel a massive loss in confidence, and that was encouraging. I was building some genuine internal belief and resilience.
That is something I have lacked for some time.
We then flipped golf on its head. We found ourselves on the only true links course in South Africa, Humewood in Gqeberha. It’s a true challenge of one’s golfing ability and patience. Being Humewood, the wind was the centre of attention and the main topic of discussion. That wind played close to four clubs in strength for most of the week, which really showed the brilliance of Humewood and links golf as a whole. Again, it was a solid week of golf and I found myself in the top 10 at the completion of Sunday’s round. A further sign of real progress.
The four weeks were fantastic. I could feel myself getting back to my best. I was playing solid, mature and low-stress golf. Again, it was something I’d been lacking for months.
There’s definite progression ahead of the DP World Tour events coming up. So I’ll keep building and see what I can do over the coming period. But I’m getting back to where I should be. And that’s what I want.
– This column first appeared in the March 2023 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.