In early May, at the British Masters, I found myself taking in a spectator’s perspective of tournament golf on the Friday at The Belfry.
Admittedly, it did feel weird, but listening to all the chatter from that side of the ropes was stimulating and somewhat enlightening. It also allowed me to have some fun trying to sum up those who actually watch golf.
I wouldn’t typically walk around the course after playing. Let me rephrase that. I never walk the course after a round, but I’d had an early tee time that Friday and shot 75 to go with my opening 68 – it was a spur of the moment thing that changed a habit of a lifetime. (By the way, I made the cut and ended up going level par over the final 36 holes.)
After my Friday round I went to the gym and was exercising while watching the golf feed on the TV. The cameraman then panned to an ice-cream truck. ‘Great idea,’ I thought and went out to find the van and grab a soft serve with a chocolate flake dunked in the middle. Clearly a sign from the universe, telling me to be outside.
So, I took a stroll and ended up walking the last five holes with Dean Burmester, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui.
Yes, my ice cream was sensational, but the highlight was listening to all the chatter among the British spectators. While I walked and watched, I also listened a lot and managed to divide spectators into a couple of categories.
Firstly there are the golf purists. You’ll find these individuals on the signature hole with their camp chairs, binoculars, cooler box and sometimes even an old yardage book. They applaud any shot that finds the green because they know they wouldn’t be able to do so themselves. Come rain or shine they’ll be there.
Then there’s the ‘I could’ve gone pro’ group. These are almost always men nearing their thirties and playing off a handicap between scratch and 14. I had the best time listening to these gents. I listened to how they’d play a shot, how bad some of the pros’ shots were and how they should be strutting the fairways of the DP World Tour. If only it was like that.
As entertaining as that group was to listen to, my favourite group has to be the families. Seeing parents take their boys and girls to tournaments is incredible. I remember being that young boy myself, seeing some of my golfing heroes and being in complete amazement and awe of them. Seeing the joy on a junior’s face when a player gives him a ball instantly sends me on a trip down memory lane. But hearing the pure joy in their voices also made me somewhat emotional.
I often find myself getting so caught up in ‘being at work’ when I’m at tournaments that I sometimes forget how privileged I am. It took a simple walk around the course and an ice cream to give me some perspective.
It was the reset I needed before a long summer swing. I’m living my dream, one day at a time.
– This column first appeared in the June 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!