I’ve spent the past four months at home in Florida with my wife and daughter, practising, training, and wondering if I’d ever get back to work. It has been a tough period for many, many people, but I would consider myself one of the lucky ones. To be able to spend so much time with my two girls was amazing. I am certain there is nothing more miraculous in the world than watching a child grow and develop. That being said, I have definitely had an itch to get back to competitive golf .
I think we can all agree that it was fantastic to have the European Tour back in action at Close House. For me personally, it was the perfect place to start… Home.
To say things are back to normal would be far from the truth. The European Tour looks very different to when I last played in March. It’s stripped back with a focus on testing and safety. Everywhere I looked was a reminder of the lengths the tour has had to go to make the UK Swing a reality. Everything from testing, to social distancing, to masks, to marking your own card was a reminder that this is different.
The atmosphere at the event was strange. With such strict protocols, life off the golf course was unfamiliar. I’m glad I get on with my caddy as well as I do, given he’s the only person I’m allowed to socialise with! Once we were on the course, it felt normal again. Other than having to stay two meters from your playing partners, and a few other small protocols, there was only one big thing missing – spectators.
There was such a difference compared to the 2017 British Masters, when it was absolutely packed! To see what an event is like with huge crowds and then no crowds is eye opening. All the players were excited to get going, but there was definitely a lack of buzz about the place. The 2017 event was just incredible, I remember being shocked at how busy it was, and it was thrilling to play in front of a home crowd. The 2020 event was a reminder of the importance of spectators in bringing atmosphere to an event. The buzz was certainly missing.
Unfortunately we won’t have any spectators for the foreseeable future, but I for one am just glad to be back. I played poorly and missed the cut by two shots at Close House and I was gutted, but there is certainly a greater sense of appreciation for how lucky I am to be able to play golf for a living. To have that taken away for a short time was a good reminder for all of us.
I have to say a huge well done to all involved. Close House was in the best condition I have ever seen it. The European Tour didn’t leave anything to chance, they rose to the challenge and ran an amazing event without a hitch.
It was also great to see Graeme Storm play so well. He has had a tough time with a wrist injury for while now and it was lovely to see him back where he belongs.
Stay safe folks!