Posted on: 27 July
Life on the road as touring professional golfer can be mundanely predictable and wildly variable.
As I flew out of Perth, leaving family and friends behind, I was a little apprehensive about how things would unfold over the next 6 months. But with tickets, passport, pre-flight Covid tests completed, UK’s Passenger Locator Form completed, and arrival Covid tests booked I was keen to get to the first tournament and commence playing international tournament golf again.
The first tournament was the Farmfoods European Legends Links Championship played at Trevose Golf Club located on the Cornwall Coast in England. Trevose GC is a typical links course with firm, bouncy fairways with bunkers that are deep and penal and to be avoided at all costs. The rough can be deep in places and the greens are firm and small. I like playing this type of golf as it is about controlling the ball and using your imagination.
Before going out to play I must first enter the Tournament Bubble. I am required to stay at the designated tournament hotel and can only leave to go to the golf course and back to the airport. Upon arrival at the golf course I must get COVID tested again. The Lateral Flow tests produce results in 15 minutes so when mine was negative it meant I could head out for some practice. If a player returns a positive test they are out of the tournament and must quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
So for the week I can go to the golf course and the hotel. That’s it. Visiting anywhere else is “out of bounds” and if I am caught visiting somewhere else it is instant disqualification from the tournament. Basically I will eat in my room for breakfast and dinner and have lunch at the golf course. Exciting stuff. As well, each day we must digitally check in to answer questions as to our general health. But all worth it.
Day 1 – I teed of early on a sunny day, with a strong northeast wind; which kept the temperature very cool. I haven’t played links golf in a long time. Seeing a ball’s first bounce on the green bounding 5 metres always takes a bit of time to get your mind and nerves used to it. So the round was a bit scrappy. I was hanging in until I managed to lose a ball down the last and take a triple bogey 8. So two birdies, 4 bogeys and 1 Triple bogey.
A lot of ground to make up.
Score – 77
Shot of the day – Holing a 15 foot downhill putt on my 8th hole to make my first birdie on the Legends Tour.
Day 2 – The weather forecast for the afternoon was wind and a possibility of rain. The rain didn’t eventuate but the wind certainly kicked up. Here are a couple of examples of playing links golf and the wind.
⦁ The first tee shot of the day I intended to hit a 4 iron to lay up short of some fairway bunkers. The bunkers are 265 meters away and instead of being comfortably short of the bunkers I hit the ball level with them.
⦁ The 10th hole is a 476M par 5. I hit a 1 iron off the tee and a 9 iron to the green. The 1 iron went 300 metres!
⦁ Into the wind on the 18th I had 152 meters to the green (normally an 8 iron) and I hit 5 iron and it was club short. Should have been 4 iron.
As I said before I love the challenge of this type of golf and I hit a lot of good shots. 1 bogey and 3 birdies lead to a score of 70.
Score – 70
Hole of the round – 380 meter par 4 straight into the wind. Good drive and then from 146M I hit a 5 iron to 10 feet and holed the putt for birdie.
Day 3 – I get to the golf course two hours early to take a PCR Covid test which will allow me to “exit” the tournament.
At last the wind abated to a comfortable 1 club breeze rather than the 3-4 club breezes that we’d had for the first two days. I was finally able to advantage of the par 5’s and managed to birdie 3 of them. Birdies on 3 par 4’s and two bogies meant I signed for a 68. Considering after the first round where I was placed 49th finishing 14th was a nice comeback.
Score – 68
Shot of the day – Holing a 6 foot bogey putt on the 6th to keep the momentum going.
Result – 14th.
During the week news filtered through that the next two tournaments on the schedule, Switzerland and Germany, have been cancelled due to Covid. Now I have 4 weeks off. So for me I headed to the south of France to do some practice and get ready for my next event; the Senior British Open. I have based myself in Carcassonne which has a beautiful course with some tricky holes. The best hole is a par 3 which is only 115 metres. Sounds easy but the green is only 9 meters deep, has a ravine in front and out of bounds on the back edge of the green. I’m always happy to hit this green in one! I don’t think the picture does it justice.
The “wee” 9th hole
After two weeks of being in France my plans had to change. The qualifying for the Senior Open was classified as a domestic event and therefore the Elite Athlete’s Exemption (which had previously been available to us) was off the table. So I jumped on the computer and changed my flights, rental car and accommodation. I now had to isolate in England for 6 days. Doing nothing is not something I’m used to. And not hitting a golf ball for six days a week before the biggest event of the year is not something I would ever consider. Covid!!
My qualifying course, Hindhead, is set amongst luxurious houses and rolling estates. The home club of Peter Alliss. It is a challenging course with very hard and very fast greens. Lots of rough and heather line the narrow fairways. It was to be a good test of all aspects of your golf game – which I think is important in qualifying events. The week of isolation didn’t seem to affect my game; 7 birdies and 2 bogies for a 5 under par score – which won my qualifying by 3 shots!
Score – 65.
Shot of the day – holing a 12 foot par putt on 11 to keep the round and momentum going.
Result – 1st
Off to register for the Senior Open……………. and more Covid tests!! Can’t wait to tee it up.