Have you ever asked yourself the question: Why do I play golf?
I used to believe that my ‘why’ revolved around the thrill of competing in tournaments, while experiencing all the amazing destinations we are fortunate enough to visit as Tour pros.
After nearly two decades of travelling full time to more than 300 sanctioned Tour events around Africa, Canada, Australia, Asia, South America and the United States, I lost my full-time playing privileges at the beginning of 2023.
In all honesty, the fact that I no longer held an exempt category on the Sunshine Tour hurt a lot more than I was prepared for. Now, I am realistic enough to accept that I was simply not getting the results in the few tournaments I entered last season. But it’s still a strange feeling to not have the option to travel to tournaments, for the first time since getting my Sunshine Tour card at Q-School in 2007. My new normal has taken a little bit of getting used to.
How open I am choosing to be in this month’s column, is a choice I’m making to raise awareness. Not only around the mental struggles of sports-people after they lose their careers but for men in general and how bad we are at ever talking about what we are really going through.
Anybody who knows me, would never describe my personality as one who ever gets down on himself. In fact, I am the exact opposite, having always been the ‘glass half full’ kind of guy. Even when the cards are on the table while chasing a cutline, I would still be calculating how to make six birdies over the last three holes.
It’s always difficult to describe the rollercoaster of highs, lows and everything in-between, when talking about a career as a pro golfer. When you’re playing well, you know that each week is a brand-new opportunity to win a golf tournament. When things aren’t going your way, you also know that the outcome of any round of golf can be unpredictable. So, when you combine these two points, it results in providing any level of player with my favourite four-letter word: hope.
Hope is something we cannot live without as human beings. Any pursuit of happiness revolves around being hopeful that things will turn out the way that we plan. Without realising the pain that it caused me to no longer see my name on the entry lists and leaderboards, I stopped playing golf completely earlier this year. Instead, I became consumed with other golf-related projects, in a bid to distract me from the career loss I had experienced.
It took time and introspection to realise some hard truths about my career as a travelling Tour pro, before I started playing golf again a couple of months ago. At the end of it all, I chose to ask myself the same question which I asked you in the opening line: Why do I play golf? Turns out that it wasn’t as much for the tournament thrills and travelling as I thought.
The truth is that I have loved this game my entire life – ever since my dad put a chopped-down persimmon wood in my hands. This game has seen me through the highs, lows and everything in-between as a Tour pro but it has always been unbelievably fair and kind to me.
Years ago, I wrote something on Facebook which a friend of mine turned into a quote and sent to me. I do hope you enjoy it.
– This column first appeared in the September 2023 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.