Whilst I like to think I’ve pushed myself a lot of the time and faced my fears at times in life, I don’t think there was anything in life that prepared me for teeing off in front of hundreds of people at a prestigious Golf Course in a Celeb Pro-Am.
There is a fear of large scale humiliation that creeps in and your mind is just repeating “Don’t mess up, don’t mess up, please don’t mess up”. You can’t think anything else.
As some of you know, I’ve been playing lots of golf recently and I was privileged to be invited down to the BMW Celeb ProAm hosted at Wentworth. Now I’ve never played in a ProAm and I’ve never played in front of large crowds. This was something I was going to have to overcome. Unfortunately at the start of my round I wasn’t exactly overcoming the pressure.
Thankfully I preserved and just endured the first few difficult holes. Thanks to my caddy Jack who gave me some solid advice throughout the day, I managed to get my game on track and started playing some of my better golf. I also got some great support from the crowd which was an eye opener for how important fans and spectators are to performance. It really lifts you when feel people are behind you.
Once I got going I have to say that this was a really great experience and one I will never forget. I was teamed up with a fantastic group on the day playing alongside Craig McGinlay (Percival in King Arthur) and Jenni Falconer (Presenter) led by the immense Viktor Hovland. When you start playing well the enjoyment flows through you and you can embrace the incredible situation you are in.
I have to say I don’t think there will be a better feeling for me playing golf than getting the ball closer to the pin in two shots than Viktor (granted it was closer by about half a foot and this was the only time but hey I’ll take it). I also had to pinch myself walking towards greens at Wentworth chatting away with one of the best young golfers around and a guy so good he made the points cut for the European Ryder Cup team! These guys are on a different level and you only just have to watch and admire.
As I often do I look for lessons in experiences and here I learnt a really important one, I actually overcame my fear of playing badly in the tournament (which kept me up the night before) by just playing through the situation. I kept persevering. I started off playing as badly as I had feared but because I kept going and just simply kept at it I eventually got to my better stuff and from there my perseverance paid off. It was a real life lesson for knowing that nothing lasts so even when it’s as bad as you feared know it doesn’t last and better times are to come.
Another thing I learned was that it will always be the people around you that help you through hard times. A huge thanks go out to caddy Jack Kurzeberg, a top young player himself with a huge career ahead of him (keep a note of this name for a few years time). His advice and knowledge of the course was invaluable. It was an insight it to how much knowledge top players have and how much preparation they do. We were barely skimming the surface of the knowledge Jack had and even then it was blowing my mind.
A huge thanks also goes out to BMW for inviting me down and treating me to a truly incredible day. I had been to Wentworth to play a round only a month or so before this and it was amazing to see the difference between playing a round on a normal day and then playing a round with the venue in full flow.
We also couldn’t have got a better day for. Beautiful sunshine and a clear day.
This was up there as a really great life experience and I left the day not wanting it to end. Hopefully I can play in more in future.
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