2019, a year of change, tears and excitement
The year 2019 was meant to kick off with tournament preparation for Asia and South Africa, but quickly turned upside-down into scheduled rehabilitation with a Physiotherapist, Surgeon and Occupational Therapist instead. I had to quickly make peace with the break (no pun intended) from competitive golf and find challenges and opportunities to retain sanity.
I jumped head first into preparations for my PGA exams; did multiple trips to South Africa and Thailand, where I started on the TPI journey under the watchful eye of Dr Greg Rose. Al Zorah Golf Club with its picturesque Jack Nicklaus designed and Troon managed course, was the venue where I set out to complete my PGA practical hours. Without any doubt the opportunities that arose as a member of the operations team at AZGC, rather than as a player preparing for tournaments, changed my life.
I was exposed to all departments, from Finance, Operations, Facilities Management, Events, Guest Relations and much more, all with the idea that these prepare me for an eventual transition from competitive golf into golf club management. Don’t ask me why, but somehow I shied away from coaching. When fellow South African teaching professional left, I was thrust into coaching, expecting my worst dreams to come true. Instead, I discovered pure joy, renewed love for the game and respect and appreciation for the impact that a coach has on the life of a young child. Adult sessions provided me with smiles and happiness, but the joy that the juniors brought cannot be put into words — their eager enthusiasm was contagious.
With their National Junior Development program, the UAE Ministry of Education and Emirates Golf Federation strive to introduce golf to the local community, developing skilled and talented players to progress to the National Development squad. I was extremely privileged to be part of the NJDP, coaching multiple weekly sessions to about 70 juniors, introducing and teaching golf to local Emirati schools. None of the juniors knew what golf was, nor how to play the game. May was rather bittersweet, my time with the juniors came to an end but so did my time at Al Zorah as I completed my hours. During the final week of the program they played multiple full-length Par 3’s with huge success. Their expressive comments, celebrations, sportsmanship and natural excitement still fuels me with endless positivity pushing me forward into this next chapter.
When I enrolled for my PGA foundation studies, I clearly indicated my intention to transition from competitive golf into club management when the time is right to do so; coaching never even featured. By being part of junior development in the region, coaching provided me with a new platform, a new outlook on my own game and on life. I surely was pulled right out of my comfort zone and thrown into an exciting growth period.
I can honesty say that I have personally learned more lessons from these juniors, in particular the group above. If I wanted, I could find a thousand reasons to hate life and be angry at the world, post surgery. Instead, I found a million reasons to love life and be happy. It all had to happen at the right time and place, steering me into a different direction. I appreciate every odd turn I had to make in life to steer me in the direction of this adventurous journey to become the very best version of myself.
2019 was definitely 6 months of rapid change, tears and endless excitement. And for the first time, I know I don’t want to impress, I will inspire.