I have never really considered myself to have any sort of mental health issues however, I have always recognised when my mood was low.
Sport was always my place to let off some steam. Seventeen years of playing football and in February 2020, I gave it all up. Struggling with injuries for a few years lead me to management, anything just to be involved in the beautiful game. But after 12 months of managing and only playing 2 games, one picking up another major injury, I made the regretful decision to start playing full time again. Safe to say, it didn’t end well. Another long-term injury that I tried to hide for months, battling through each game, and then struggling to walk for the following three days.
The start of lockdown was tough. I knew I wasn’t going to play football anymore, not that my body could handle it anyway! My moods where changing. Not being able to leave the house as well as not being able to let out my frustration for 90 minutes on a Saturday was building up. I couldn’t help it, I didn’t even notice it, but everyone around me did. Especially my amazing wife.
I started looking for other escapes. I couldn’t go for a jog or a run because my ankles are made of whipped cream so, I started playing golf. Not for the first time because I had always had an interest and used to hit up the driving range and pitch and putt from time to time but it was never a game I had committed to. My grandad was an avid golfer in his day and loves to remind me of his not one but two, holes in one!
I also developed a friendship with Ben, who’s love for golf is infectious. I took to eBay and with my last £20 on my PayPal account bought a set of clubs from the 1990’s. I started to turn our shed in my back garden into a little practice area. My grandad gave me an old practice driving net, I sourced an old carpet and created a safe area to practice my swing and putting.
It was not perfect, it was barely usable, but it kept me happy for a few weeks.
Then the golf courses re opened! I was itching to finally get out and attempt to play a proper round. I pestered Ben for weeks, I couldn’t stop messaging him for want of a round of golf. Unlucky.
What a first game! I was two rounds in and hooked. I longed for a handicap to see how bang average I was. I welcomed my new born daughter into the world and then celebrated with a round of golf and lets just say my wife wasn’t overly pleased, but she gets it.
Fast forward five months and I’ve found a sport to help me let off steam and to burn off some of the built up energy and frustration that I’ve always seemed to have. I mean, I’m not great at golf, but I’ve shaved 5 points off my handicap already and have a golf bag that I’m proud of! Granted I’ve only stayed and played at my local course, the mighty Bovey Tracey Golf Centre, mainly because of how convenient it is to play 9 holes in 90 mins and be back in time for lunch with the wife and kids. I took the dive to become a member which is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made. I cannot wait for Sunday morning golf and coffee now. Its’ done more than replace my love for football. I can go and play, hang out with my mates, admire the beautiful Devonshire countryside, and feel absolutely fine the next day! No injuries, no limping, no creeping around the house like everything is okay when my knee feels like it’s about to disintegrate into 1000 pieces.
I’m still chasing that hole in one. Still chasing that 18 handicap. Still playing every round good or bad with a smile on my face and still trying to drag my grandad to the course to show me how it’s done. Truth be told, I can see myself doing this for decades.
WHAT A SPORT!