Former Scotland international rugby union player, Rory Lawson, comes to the Sport Parkinson’s Four Nation golf tournament with golf being a part of his life since he was 7 years old.
“I’d go and swing a stick at a relatively young age,” says Lawson.
“My Papa on my Mum’s side, who was Bill McLaren (the rugby commentator) and my Grandad on my Dad’s side enjoyed their golf. My Mum and Dad both played golf too so when they were doing the same, I guess I started playing a little bit more. I’d play in a Friday medal, at our local Golf Club, at the end of a school week when I was probably 13 or 14.”
Lawson won 31 caps for Scotland and has had a very successful career representing Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby and Newcastle Falcons before announcing his retirement in 2013.
Lawson will not be nervous of playing at a course that has the prestige of the Belfry, having had a history of experience at the iconic golf courses that represent the Four Nations and actually being a caddie at Gleneagles when in his last 2 years of school.
“It was just about 15 or 20 minutes from where my parents lived, so we’d drive up through the Glen and go caddy for American golfers or visitors. I’ve always had a real love for the game and that’s certainly not dwindled in recent years either,” he adds.
Lawson’s love for the game comes across in abundance in his excitement for the day ahead at the Belfry.
“In many ways, there’s no better way I think than spending 4 or 5 hours with a bunch of mates where you can have a bit of a competition and you can have a real catch up, relax, enjoy it and get frustrated together.”
“Ultimately, no matter how bad a day you have on the golf course, there’s always something that will happen that will have you coming back. You might hole a long put or you’ll hit an approach shot close or whatever it may be, there’s always something to have you coming back.”
“I think one of the key things that I really love about it is that there is a big mental game but also it’s kind of you against you.
Yes, you know you’ll often play a match against someone else, whereby there will be a winner, but you know at the end of it you can kind of self-reflect.”
The reflective attitude towards his golf is reiterated again as Lawson highlights the mind games and internal dialogue you have with yourself on the golf course.
“You hear people talking all the time about ‘the swing thoughts’ and all that kind of stuff. Actually, on a bad day, you’ve got 1000 swing thoughts going through your mind. On a good day, you maybe have 2 swing thoughts going through your mind but it’s very difficult to narrow those 1000 thoughts down to 2 and turn a bad day into a good day.
It’s a constant internal dialogue of trying to master a game that nobody has ever mastered.”
Following on from Lawson’s admission that he’s not yet mastered golf, we ask him what other sport he’d many like trying at some point in the future.
“So, I guess it’s down to what I feel my body would be capable of now,” he honestly answers.
“When I was forced to retire from Rugby with injury, the 1st year after I retired, I was asked to go and take on Kilimanjaro, so we went and climbed Kilimanjaro.
The 2nd year, Mike Tindall asked if I’d be interested in doing a team Quadrathlon with him, which was based in Scotland, and I said yes to that, foolishly, but that was a lot of fun.”
“I am really tempted to do a triathlon. I haven’t done one and I think it would be a good challenge. The 1 thing that holds me back is probably the range of movement I have in my shoulders when it comes to swimming or the ability for my little legs to hold up to running.”
“Other than that, I’m always inspired by the Olympics. I like a bit of water sports, I did a little bit of wakeboarding when I first retired from Rugby and I absolutely loved that, so I’d like to get better at that or Surfing, which is really cool to do but frustrating as hell to get to grips with.”
Lawson adds “I’m excited to meet some new people who have a love and we’ll share the love of the game.
Having met Charlie and having met a few other people who have faced the challenges of Parkinson’s and being able to see how they faced things head-on and they look to get the best out of themselves. I always have so much admiration for anybody who continues to check on themselves to get to squeeze out the best they have.”
Rory Lawson will captain Scotland’s Celebrities at the Sport Parkinson’s Four Nations golf tournament on Wednesday 13th October.