Do you ever scroll through Twitter and wonder why the hell you waste your time on it? In a world where time seems to run away from us, we actively choose to use up some of that time reading inflammatory news bites and ignorant vitriol disguised as opinion; words and views united only by their intention to anger.
(I blame Brexit more than I blame Twitter.)
We’re lucky in our precious golf bubble that even our most divisive issues are relatively unimportant when it comes to the bigger picture (and I say that as someone whose world is golf). But it does intrigue and slightly depress me that the issues that truly seem to ignite people’s passions, even in our golf bubble, are those that also unearth the most conservative contempt.
Denis Pugh seems to have a knack for finding those issues. Slow play always does it. Equality does too, but only really when it can be condensed by the ones who like to condense it into ‘economics 101’. And I think we can now add calling out other players/knowing the rules to that list. Maybe that’s the problem; none of these issues are clearly defined, and a space that calls for short-form quick-fire commentary doesn’t lend itself to prolonged or reasoned debate. (It is Trump’s preferred communication method, after all…) But it can be difficult to understand or comprehend the personal nature of some responses. I think when you’re used to sharing enough of yourself on your social media to give what you think is a general sense of your character, the backlash can feel like an attack on that (and sometimes it very much is), which can be shocking, and upsetting – even when you know the ignorance is unjustified and meaningless. None of us are immune.
The ability or substance required for any one issue to ignite and engage is beside the point. The point can get so lost it makes you wonder why it’s worth igniting in the first place. But that brings me here. Maybe it was the entire (naive) purpose of social media from the very beginning… its ability to connect.
I might be way too long winded about it sometimes (exhibit A) but I like sharing some of what the ebb and flow of being a professional golfer looks like, because it’s undoubtedly one of the loneliest sports on the planet. But we’re somehow together in that loneliness too.
It’s the shared experience that connects us all, that makes us all care. It isn’t rules justifications, it isn’t slow play, it isn’t the distance debate, it isn’t the gender pay gap.
It’s the complexities and intricacies of each of us versus the sport. It’s why we, as a golf world, cared about Brendon Todd winning the Bermuda Championship. It’s why we cared that Haley Moore got her LPGA card. It’s why we cared when Steven Brown did more than just secure his European Tour card in Portugal. It’s why I write, and why I put it out there for people to see.
Whatever level of golf you play or understand or coach or watch, you get it. You get how one day you can have a confidence that can make you fly, and the next day you can be in a black hole of anguish that makes you question everything.
It’s why I can nearly win a tournament one week despite feeling more comfortable with a 5 iron than a wedge, and then average under 10ft with my wedges the next week and still make more 6s than 4s on par 5s. Why I can be astounded at playing with a girl with a swing speed of over 100mph and still hit rescues in tight while she flies greens with short irons. Why that same girl can hit her first tee shot straight into the water the next day and still end up shooting 64.
It’s why I can get the putting yips in a 144 hole tournament that determines an entire year, and yet still believe in winning a European Order of Merit mere weeks later. Without looking for sympathy or back-slapping or advice or criticism. Just to share, and just to connect. To be together in our loneliness. Because let’s be honest, when we strip back all the controversies and ignorance and things that need to change and things that drive us to despair… we’re damn lucky to love this game.