FOR every Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of professional golfers around the world struggling to make a living in the Royal & Ancient game.
For them, dreams of slipping on a Green Jacket or picking up the Claret Jug are just that. Trying to live from day to day and event to event is a constant battle.
The face of the game has changed beyond recognition since the likes of Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle and – to a lesser extent – Colin Montgomerie were starting out in their careers.
The European Tour, for example, is now a global circuit, as is the Challenge Tour, its second-tier cousin. Playing on either of them is both costly and entails considerable spells of time away from home.
Just to have a chance of making a decent living, players need to be performing at an extraordinarily high level, such has the bar been raised in the modern game.
I wouldn’t mind a pound for every time I’ve seen someone getting excited about a golf club’s top player turning professional and believing they’ve made it in the game.
In truth, that step is the easy part, and more and more seem to be taking it without the hint of a penny of sponsorship, creating added pressure straight away.
Golf is no place for the faint-hearted. If you want to be “one of the boys” or “one of the girls”, then don’t bother. Team events such as the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup are the exception rather than the norm in professional golf.
Most of the time, you are out there on your own, battling against 156 opponents. It’s dog eat dog. Only the toughest survive – and that’s exactly the way it should be in professional sport.
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