A Sports Fan Speaks  

There comes a time...

There is a time on every truly great golf course when the designer forces the player to face his fears, confront himself in the mirror, over-analyze his own inner turmoil and ultimately either successfully triumph or endure endless future hours of range time discussing “weak grip” or “casting from the top.” Most famously, we all can cast our minds to the 17th Tee at the TPC Sawgrass and the generalizations of ‘golf as a reflection of life’ that NBC’s Master of the Moronic, Johnny Miller chucks around like rice at a wedding. But, truth is, in those moments, alone with your thoughts, a player and often times a person, is defined. The ability that the true Greats like Jack and Tiger had in their prime to block out the world around them, a form of uber-tunnel vision is what allowed them to consistently dominate the sport over extended periods of time. The rest of us see the water instead of the green, see the forest instead of the fairway or if a certain 23-year old Irishman is to be believed, are just not in a good place mentally dentally.

“…when you’re driftin’…” When Rory McIlroy walked off the 9th Hole in his Friday round at the Honda Classic after army golfing his way to +7 through the first eight, it left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of fans of the current World #1. Yes, the highly publicized and highly lucrative equipment switch to Nike is undoubtedly a factor, as are the demands on his time by sponsors, press and fans alike but with great success comes the inevitable great responsibility. Nothing alienates the bill-payers and irritates one’s fellow competitors quicker than the Daly-esque mid-round WD due to Molar Malfunction, Lost Ball Syndrome or the hitherto undiagnosed Distant Girlfriend Disorder. When the Golden Bear remarks that you “shouldn’t have walked off the golf course” it means one of 2 things – either 1) you should have run or 2) it’s time to get back to ♫♫those bare necessities, those simple bare necessities and forget about your worry and your strife♫♫.

“…comes a time…” It is easy to forget that McIlroy is still just 23. With two Majors already it seems as though he’s been on the world stage for a long time and while we embrace his youthful enthusiasm and raw talent we often forget that highly emotive personalities are almost always a double-edged sword. The beautiful tapestries he painted at Kiawah Island and Congressional that left the field gasping for air are a testament to his talent but the small-town boy within is undoubtedly still struggling to come to terms with his status as a global celebrity and the intense scrutiny that comes with the position. Staring into the jaws of The Bear Trap on a particularly unfriendly and windy Florida morning at PGA National with a Driver that feels like swinging an untamed python and a smarting wisdom tooth, an early handshake and home to the new house around the corner may seem like a good idea at the time but we can safely assume that neither the PR machine nor Mom and Dad back home were too impressed.

“…when you settle down…” Time will tell of course. For Rory, it might mean some time off the stage and some casual £10 Skins with the members at Holywood Golf Club on the weekend if only to rediscover the depth of joy that comes from golf at its simplest. It took the reluctance of friends to tee it up with me and the disappointment of a father in my behaviour when he did, for me to re-examine my involvement in the sport. The misplaced belief that my Dad’s proudest moment would be the day I turned Pro was eventually offset by the enlightened understanding that he beamed far brighter at my on-course laughter and joy than over any score I ever signed my name to. Maybe that’s maturity, maybe that’s prioritizing or maybe, just maybe it is an understanding that whilst golf and golf courses often force us to confront the fears and insecurities in ourselves, it is the support and comfort of family which ultimately enables us to overcome them.

“…comes a light, feelin’s liftin’…” Few holes have the beauty and elegance of the 18th at Harbour Town. I was Even Par with two birdies and a double on the short 9th and standing over the ball on the Tee it happened… my mind went completely blank of any recognizable swing thoughts. I remember thinking that the Old Man would really love this track and with the safety valve thought of him over my shoulder saying; “Just hit it hard and hold it” (to this day I still have no idea what that means) I somehow found the short grass. Standing in the fairway I remember feeling I should play safe, middle of the green, make par, blah blah blah. Fired at the marsh-side pin, made double and walked off the 18th with a Cheshire Cat smile that couldn’t have been wider. It’s just golf after all.

“…lift that baby right off the ground…” And so Kelowna, it is time for my family and I to fly. I truly want to thank you all for allowing me to opine and tell some stories over the last two years, it has been a true pleasure. My thanks to the wonderful staff at Castanet for putting up with me and helping me out when so required. Until another time Kelowna…

Editor's note:  All of us here at Castanet are sad to see Sean go!  We very much appreciate his valuable contribution to our site through his weekly sports articles.  We wish Sean and his family the very best in the future!

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About the Author

Sean McEachern is above all else a Sports Fan. Originally from Ottawa, Sean was educated at Strathallan School in Scotland. A former golf professional and graduate of the San Diego Golf Academy, Sean and his fiancee settled in Kelowna in 2010. A hospitality industry 'lifer', Sean is a sports trivia enthusiast and discussionist and is currently a staff writer at www.freethesportsman.com and at Okanagan Collection magazine. Sean recently welcomed his daughter Keira to the world on July 27th. 

Follow Sean on Twitter @sportsfanspeaks and feel free to comment on any stories at www.asportsfanspeaks.com.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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