The Belfry, 2002, Saturday foursomes…one of those bucket list moments, being so close to Tiger you could have taken his scorecard out of his back pocket and changed a 4 for a 6.
I’ll never forget walking across the incredible unbelievably pristine fairways, looking back at the iconic clubhouse thinking, wow these guys, are so lucky to be able to do this, I’ll never be able to be stood here and actually be playing.
Fast forward to 2013, I’m sitting in a consultants room having just been told that I had PD, its strange how you can only remember certain words “you’ll never be able to keep doing your job” he said…..”what”!!!!
“You’ll never” I kept thinking ain’t half a long time, but my trouble is I have trouble doing what people tell me.(as my wife will be happy to confirm)
But unfortunately he was right and eventually I had to take early retirement, and I actually started to listen to some advice, and think about exercising (which really is absolutely crucial to keep PD from controlling your life)
I started playing football again (well walking football – which is the future, trust me)it’s incredible how I was able to feel ‘normal’ just for the hour that I played.
By now the Sports Parkinsons express train, being driven by Charlie Appleyard, with conductors Garen and Claire, punching the tickets was leaving Paddington, and being a really keen but at best mediocre sportsman I wanted to catch a ride.
A list of upcoming events soon popped up on their website.
Scrolling down….Four Nations Golf at The Belfry… whoa!! hold on, a Ryder Cup style event at The Belfry (instantly I was back to 2002 putting Tigers card back in his pocket hoping he hadn’t noticed)the chance to walk in their footsteps on that course?? And play a round there would a dream.
But hold on, I haven’t played since I was 12, no clubs, no shoes, or anything resembling a golf outfit and I have PD as well.
Never mind I thought, I’d got to know Charlie he’ll get me in!!!!
Next time I was Charlie was a couple of months before the tournament, “are you coming to The Belfry” he said.
I’m in I thought.
“Only if selected” I said with a sort of double Parkinson’s wink.
“Sorry mate, we’ve already got the team, the guys have been playing for a while, and have an established handicap ( I had of course none of the above)and to be fair who was I kidding, my game was nowhere near where it needed to be, it was a real wake up call, I knew I was going to have to work hard.
“That’s fine I said”
I said, trying not to look like a kid who’d been promised a scalextric at Christmas but had got an orange.
October came, I was in Cyprus warm weather training (well on holiday), when the tournament took place. I cannot begin to describe how gutted and disappointed I was not to be part of this incredible event (have you seen the video?)
Personalised golf bags, proper playing kit, celebrities, new friendships, playing at the belfry!!!!!, hearing those that played talk about pride they felt for playing for their country and the incredible buzz that had been created – I wanted in.
I thought you’re never get a better opportunity to play at the Belfry than this so…
A few months later, I’m down the range, or a least hitting golf balls five days a week, I’ve sold some prized possessions to buy some clubs, joined my local club and started having lessons. I’m completely hooked (but not obsessive), golf may be not for everyone, but I’m finding it’s so good for PD, I’m feeling fitter and more flexible, I’m stretching more, I’m spending more time in the fresh air, I’m meeting new folks who are all keen to learn about Parkinson’s and how it does or doesn’t effect my golf, it’s improving my mental health and above all I’m having loads of fun. What I have found is that you don’t have to be a Rory or Tiger to enjoy golf, just by purely moving and being outside will make you feel so much better. So get out and give it a whack.
But first is the Parkinson’s Golf Open, in Wales, which will be my first Golf competition, where I look forward to seeing some old friends and making some new, and if I don’t make this years team at the Belfry, I’ll never stop trying for the next one.