I have said it numerous times – golf is a contact sport. This week has reminded me how many wonderful people I know purely because I picked up a club 3 and a 1/2 years ago.
I watch the incredulity on the faces of my friends as I explain my last 12 months. Fairways has been my life since I founded it in April 2016 and when I tell folk about my last 12 months, I too think it sounds unreal.
Following the Australian Open last year I spent a month in Australia then early January flew to Hawaii for the Sony Open. After connecting with fellow media and PGA staff, I was off to Bolivia for 9 weeks to help with a junior golf program. Ireland and Scotland were next for 3 weeks each before arriving back home to Canada.
I worked waitressing and bartending for the summer to ensure I had the funds to keep the 22 juniors we help support globally, out on the fairway. Around this I attended the RBC Canadian Open and the CP Canadian Women’s Open before heading to Cape Breton, California, Calcutta and Katmandu talking junior golf all the way.
I arrived in Australia a month ago.
It has been a crazy year with many hours in airports (I book the cheapest flight) but a year that has been extremely rewarding and catching up with my Australian golf friends again is wonderful.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting more of the Empower Golf crew and spent some time with CEO James Gribble and his mates.
I chatted with Matty Guyatt and his caddie Robbie O’Donnell on the range. Matty has transitioned into coaching and we discussed how nice it is to watch childrens’ golf develop and the pleasure they get from hitting a great shot. Matty is loving being a mentor and was surprised at how much pleasure he gets out of teaching. While Matty says he is now more coach than player he has had a great week and finished in 9th position.
Robbie, who runs Social Golf Australia, and I discussed Fairways and a proposal for an opt in donation as golfers renew their membership.
As they headed off to play, I got chatting with John Nelson the Course Superintendent from Grafton and other greens staff, who had come in from all over to help with the event.
Every night as soon as play ends, a multitude of greens keeping vehicles snake their way down the path breaking off in different directions to prepare the course for the following day.
There is so much work involved to host a tournament and it is the logistical coordination of so many that always impresses me.
Today I also had the pleasure of catching up with Tyson Flynn, a fellow Aussie golfer who I have been in touch with via social media for 12 months. We watched a little Spieth before Day teed off then followed Day for a few holes. We have arranged to tee it up at his home course, Royal Canberra, before the end of the year.
I say again – golf is a contact sport.
The golf is now complete and finishing on -11 Cameron Davis is the 2017 Australian Open Champion.
I watched his mother hug him saying “how did you do that” as one of his friends said “you’re like a god right now”.
I have just left the press conference where Cam spoke of his year in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour and his struggle to play good golf. His first top 10 finish and he finishes in 1st place. Not a bad week for the 22 yr old and no doubt the $225,000 in prize money will help relieve the performance pressure for 2018.
During the press conference, his grandmother sat beside me grinning from ear to ear as tears ran down her face.
Applause and smiles all round from the press and I must say I am happy to see the future of Australian golf in good hands.