No one is suggesting that things are normal again after 2020 brought things to a standstill. No one could have foreseen the impact of Covid 19, although it’s now stretched into a ‘Covid-20’ and ‘Covid-21’ as a second wave engulfs the planet and new dangerous strains of the virus emerge, writes BRANDON STONE.
But, 2021 was a year greatly anticipated. People have become emotionally and physically drained by the pandemic, and that even includes those of us fortunate enough to have not been directly affected by the virus. My heart really goes out to those who have been directly affected and those who have lost loved ones.
When the calendar turned over from 2020 to 2021 it pushed the mute button on what would have been a joyous welcoming of the New Year – in South Africa there was a 9pm curfew – but, as with every new year, there were green shoots of hope that the next year would be better than the previous one.
On that score 2020 didn’t exactly set the bar too high for 2021. So, even as we continue to fight the pandemic, when we look back at nearly a year ago, we are in a slightly better place. The world might not be completely back to normal, but there are definitely motivating signs of normality in the distance.
Starting the European Tour season in the Middle East, just like we have over my entire career, shows me we’re a lot closer to ‘normal’ than we were in June last year. That has to be considered a positive.
Obviously there are still many after-shocks from 2020. The Sunshine Tour has postponed its events that are co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour. But at least they’re only postponing those events, not cancelling them. That should be positively approached.
All in all, I feel this year will be largely unpredictable. Event dates will inevitably be pushed back, travel will be extremely difficult on occasion and time spent with family and friends will be at a minimum. But every season provides opportunity and 2021 will be no different.
Looking at the staggering number of South Africans who will be playing abroad, I’m 100% certain South African golf fans will have much to cheer about.
We have some tremendous young talent coming through on the European Tour playing schedule. But I’m also looking forward to watching guys like Erik van Rooyen perform on the PGA Tour. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see something big from our boys in the US of A this coming year.
On a personal level, I’m ecstatic to be able to get going. My golf game feels fantastic and I’m well rested after the December break. Some of my favourite events are back on the schedule and I’ll be travelling all over the world again. As you know, I get itchy feet when I’m not travelling, so I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things, literally and figuratively.
I’m planning to build on the consistency and professionalism I developed last season. But at the same time there is one main goal … return to the winner’s circle. Let’s go chase those trophies!