This isn’t a blog about Bryson. Partly because I’m not a journalist, and partly because there isn’t really anything I can write about what I witnessed in him winning the US Open – apart from obviously winning a US Open – that particularly inspires me.
We played the last two weeks on the LET; first in Switzerland and then in France. I’m pretty sure most of us spent 95% of the time we weren’t actually on the golf course in France watching the US Open – we were in bubble life, so there wasn’t much else on offer, but it was also a major championship. As golfers, we’re going to watch.
But like I said, I didn’t find it particularly inspiring. I found it entertaining and engaging, because it was a major: the ebb and flow of players gaining ground and momentum and confidence, and then faltering, and wondering and wandering, and trying with a desperate calm to fit the pieces of the jigsaw together – that’s fascinating, wherever it is and whoever wins it. And to be fair to Bryson, watching somebody succeed in their pursuit of an ultimate goal is inspiring, especially as a professional golfer who dreams similar dreams. But in terms of engaging my mind, stirring something in me to find words for my thoughts on it all – it didn’t do it for me. Neither did the US PGA, to be honest, as compelling as the leaderboard was. Same with the ANA (and the endless need to turn it into the Great Wall of Dinah). I don’t say any of that to criticise golf or those who were successful in each – I enjoyed watching them. It just didn’t make me really think (and I think a lot).
Other people will write about what this all means for the game of golf itself and where it needs to go. What protections need to be given to a sport that is beautiful in its demands of the mental as much as the physical. How to redistribute those demands – not because swinging at great speed and finding somewhere near the middle of the clubface while doing so isn’t a great skill, but because golf is capable of so much more. And it’s the ‘more’ that sucks me in. It’s the ‘more’ that I like thinking about and writing about and getting up in the morning for.
You know what does inspire me? The grind.
Maybe I speak as a professional golfer and a competitor here as opposed to a fan, but this captures me far more than the final round at Winged Foot on Sunday. It’s the reason I will forever have so much time for Jordan Spieth, and perhaps the quality he has that brought him his majors, as much as any technical ability. It’s the reason there was so much goodwill towards Matteo Manessaro winning an Alps Tour event at the weekend.
It’s living for the climb, for that chink of light in the un-answering darkness, for the adrenaline of it quite simply clicking again.
For the shared, unspoken discontent between players getting kicked off the range on a Thursday evening, all looking for answers to different questions in each divot and each video and each tweak of the alignment stick on the ground.
For mutual acknowledgement of mutual demons and the willingness to shatter comfort zones in an effort to deal with them; that last resort of admitting vulnerability.
For quiet top tens after a year of quieter battles that indicate a path, for the first time, back to the start; when once upon a time it was only that; the start.
For frustrating top 20s that highlight a better level of bad golf, along with the realisation that that matters. For making cuts on the number when downhill 4 footers make themselves a staple, and the fairways narrow in tandem with a two way miss.
Sometimes, for being brave enough to let go. To avoid hours on the range, without guilt.
For having the grit to just keep going, to find a way through, after your expectations have been carved open with the sharp blade of reality.
For finding moments in outward average-ness that pave the way to better. That bedrock the dream for another day, another time. And seeing that in everyone around you.
Tournament golf… I missed watching you. But I missed competing in you more.