Not very many people know this but I attended Qualifying School a few years ago and survived right the way through to Final Qualifying. For those unfamiliar with Q School, its where a motley mix of nearly 1000 aspiring young golfers and grizzled veterans battle it out for just 30 places on the European Tour.
Those privileged to have seen me play golf will not be in the least bit surprised to learn that I didnt come away with one of those 30 coveted spots. To be honest, I wasnt there to try and win my card but was hoping to capture the drama, horror and sheer agony of the cruellest tournament yet devised by man.
I picked on a three-ball more or less at random and followed them for two rounds. There was a Frenchman, former tour pro Russell Claydon trying to win his card back and a charming young man from Bognor called Ryan Fenwick. After two rounds, they were split and I chose to follow Fenwick, who missed the final cut by just one miserable shot. He played brilliantly from tee to green but his putter was cold. After it was all over, we sat on the terrace and both wept into our respective beers.
The subsequent article I wrote was okay but failed to adequately capture the true heartbreak and emotion of it all. Ross Biddiscombe in his superb book Golf on the Edge has shown me how to do it.
Mr B took seven golfers with seven very different histories, monitored their varying progress for a year and then followed them through Q School. By introducing them and telling us their individual and interesting stories, Mr B cleverly involves us emotionally so that, by the time Q School comes around, we understand and appreciate how much winning a card means to each of them. By the end of the book, were just as caught up in the emotion of it all as I was that day I sat and sobbed alongside Ryan Fenwick.
We meet other golfers along the way, hear their stories and develop an understanding of how the European Tour operates in general and how Q School works in particular. Some of the tales were told are heartening, many are sad, all are interesting and help us appreciate what an extraordinary world pro golfers inhabit.
We hear so much about top players glamorous lifestyles that to learn of the struggle others endure in an effort to emulate them is truly refreshing and redresses the balance.
I heartily recommend the book. For more information and to order a copy, go to www.golfontheedge.co.uk.