It goes without saying that the proverbial horse has bolted when it comes to LIV Golf’s disruption of professional golf. Between the Instagram posts of that private Airbus on which the players (and their caddies) fly, to the never-ending line of questions in the media tents, it’s the only show in town.
Without a doubt, the most trending topic of 2022 is set to live on, long into the foreseeable future. But it has also captured the hearts and minds of the game’s ‘lifeblood’, namely our own golf club members.
Being the golf director at a club like Royal Harare, I would never have imagined the demographic capture which LIV Golf has managed to pull off. So many golfing purist members of ours (most of them in their sixties) cannot stop talking about how much they enjoy watching the ‘rebel tour’ coverage!
No doubt concessions will be made in the coming months, as the dust settles, and the PGA Tour realises that to compete against a blank cheque book being waved at their big guns every Monday morning is probably not the dogfight they should be suiting up for.
All eyes were on the 150th Open Championship this past month and rightfully so, as not even the swashbuckling Great White Shark was going to detract from one of the most anticipated Majors in our lifetime.
Tiger’s return, Rory’s run of form, Morikawa’s defence, winds of change at the window shutters and a stellar field, set against the most iconic backdrop in all of golf, on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Footage of the Old Course brought back some fond memories from when I was a starry-eyed 16-year-old, playing in the Junior Open Championship which was held in St Andrews, at the nearby Craighead and Balcomie courses. Junior golfers from around the world gathered and I quickly found my way into the band of misfits, which comprised a Canadian, a Spaniard, a Kenyan and a kid from Guam. Which until then, I had never heard of.
Events like the Junior Open present the most incredible opportunity for any aspiring junior golfer, as not only did we get to play for a miniature version of the Claret Jug that week, but we were also granted all-access passes to The Open Championship at St Andrews.
In a galaxy far, far away, it was ‘the year 2000’ and spirits were high, having all recently survived the Y2K panic a few months prior. Tiger was at his peak, while Rory and Collin were still in the Drive, Chip and Putt ranks. Rafa Cabrera Bello was the Spanish amigo in our group and has since gone on to become a regular face in the Ryder Cup.
Rafa had a great saying which since then has made me realise the difference between us, as golfers. While most of us are guilty of spending too much time over the ball, replaying YouTube videos in our busy minds, with all the ‘don’t miss it there’ scenarios, the best players in the world are standing tall over the ball, with their minds empty of all conscious thought. Often replaced by just a single ‘trigger’, to fill them with confidence in the moment of truth.
Rafa’s ‘Vuela como un aguila’ was just the light-hearted command he needed, to let the ball ‘fly like an eagle’. I would highly recommend finding a one-liner for yourself, before the next time you walk into a shot and enter ‘panic mode’.
– This column first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!