For those of us of a certain age it’s jabbing season. – namely Covid and flu.  I had the Covid one a couple of weeks ago and was very apprehensive about it, to say the least.  After all, it was catching the wretched virus last November and then having my booster in January that felled me, opening up an unpleasant medical world that I’m slowly tunnelling out of.  Happily, all was well and I had zero reaction to it.  The flu one is this week so fingers crossed that goes just as smoothly.

Not going smoothly at all is the state of professional golf as the divisions between the Saudi-backed LIV Golf rebels and the PGA and DP World tours widen and positions become more and more entrenched – never a good idea in any walk of life.  If you’re like me, you’ll be beginning to find the whole thing rather tiresome – after all, there’s only so much we ordinary folk can take of multi-millionaires squabbling about world ranking points and the opportunity, or lack of, to play in the sport’s majors and high-profile teams.

It has been nauseating to hear the majority of the LIV golf players say they are invested in “spending more time with their families” and “growing the game” clumsily skirting round the fact that they have signed on because of the colossal amounts of money on offer.  That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear Harold Varner III say it as it is.  He came from a relatively poor background, fell in love with golf and found he was pretty good at it.  When LIV came calling he rejected their first signing-on offer, countered with a figure of his own and was blown away when it was accepted.  Having suffered from a foot injury last year he had glimpsed how precarious a sportsperson’s life can be and had no hesitation in making the jump (with a happily repaired foot), eyes wide open.

One of the nicest guys in the game, Harold Varner III at the US PGA Championship in 2019 at Bethpage Black.

Harold accepted the trade-offs, the possibility that majors, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams might be closed to him.  What he was gaining was security for himself and the next couple of generations of little Varners, something he wouldn’t have dared to dream of when growing up and seeing the sacrifices his parents made for him just to be able to play this game.

“You’re telling me I can make X, Y and Z and it’s guaranteed…..I’ve got to go do it and I get to help more people.  I wanted to do it.”

Varner’s candour is at odds with some of his LIV colleagues.  He doesn’t get involved in any spinning of the truth, an admirable trait in any walk of life and one that seems to be in very short supply – certainly in the United Kingdom at the moment.

I was very moved this week when watching a documentary about Ladies’ European Tour player Becky Brewerton (top) in which she highlighted her mental struggles with the game over the last number of years.  It’s entitled “Becky Brewerton:  From glittering career to the pits of despair/My Story”.  Have a look at it if you can – it gives us all a window into the not-so-glamorous world of competitive sport and it takes a lot of guts and courage to come through these tribulations and talk about them.  By doing so Becky will help loads of others who are mistakenly thinking that they are the only ones riddled with self-doubt and feelings of being an imposter.  She’s always been a fabulous golfer but is an even better person.

The link is below.

As you are aware this blog is frequently technically challenged so if it doesn’t work when you click below, just go to youtube.com and google Becky Brewerton.

Those of you who know me well know that all my life I have experienced recurring dreams, many of the anxiety variety.  For example, it’s four decades since I sat any university exams yet I still am haunted in my dreams by not being able to find the examination hall in time to sit the exam.  In other dreams I am on the first tee of an important match with galleries lining the fairways – it’s never just a cosy fourball on my home course!  Everyone is waiting for me to tee off not realising there is something wrong with my contact lenses and, try as I might, I cannot clear my blurred vision.  The result is I take an age to hit the ball and am aware of the restlessness of the onlookers who are fed up waiting.  I always wake up in a cold sweat without ever having hit the drive.

Just how does your mind work, I wonder?  It’s a lifetime ago since I faced either of those scenarios, yet I visit them often in my dreams, so is it revealing deep-seated anxiety issues?  The past year, which has been golf-less because of Covid, has been free of my putting-yips angst, a welcome benefit to not getting out on the course.  It’ll be interesting to see if the yips are lying in wait for me or if they’ll have decided to take a hike, at least for a while.  I suspect the former as I’ve not been up to doing any “mind control” work, which I’m sure is needed for lasting improvement.

In this life it is a comfort to know you are not alone and this underlines the importance of Becky speaking out.  She will probably never truly appreciate how much this may just help folk from all walks of life.  It could be the catalyst to them deciding to seek help.  We are all fragile, after all.

Bravo Becky!