Open Championship 2012 blog: meeting a legend
When I started writing a golf blog some 18 months ago, I hoped one day I’d have the chance to meet a touring professional. I even allowed myself to entertain the possibility of rubbing shoulders with a top-ten player, or maybe an Open champion.
Imagine my joy, then, when I travelled to London’s Centre Point building to interview Luke Donald on my first day with Golf Monthly.
I couldn’t believe my luck, and since then I’ve had the priviledge of meeting several other players most golf fans could only dream of coming into contact with.
As a relative newcomer to the industry, these encounters still fill me with a sense of giddy excitement that is perhaps lacking amongst more seasoned campaigners.
In truth, the inclusive nature of the golf industry and the admirable willingness of most professionals to work with the media has facilitated a landscape where interaction with players is relatively commonplace.
Something I never, ever thought I’d have the chance to do, though, was meet and talk to golfing legend, Ryder Cup captain and eight-time major champion Tom Watson.
And what an absolute priviledge it was. Watson is renowned as one of the nicest players in golf, and as I stood there, listening to him talk so passionately about the game, it was immediately clear why.
He’d just been handed the Golf Foundation’s ‘Spirit of Golf Award’ for the effect he’s had inspiring youngsters to play golf.
Surely, there’s never been such a deserving winner. Watson is involved in the First Tee organisation in his home state of Kansas and dedicates so much of his time to growing the game.
Given his great success, it would have been easy to slip into the doldroms and take himself away from the game after he lost the ability to compete consistently at the top level.
But that was never an option, for Watson’s love of the game extends beyond the professional ranks.
He’s a class act and the perfect embodyment of everything golf stands for. He’s a brilliant ambassador for the game and his continual zest for golf is quite inspiring.
Yes, golf is a sport played predominantly for personal gain, but most professionals view it as more than that.
It’s a love, an enfatuation, and most pros are happy to do their bit to help extol the virtues of the sport.
That is where golf sets itself apart. It’s a professional sport, but it’s also, on the most binary level, an all-consuming passion that people from all walks of life want to share.
That is certainly the stance adopted by Watson, and the vast majority of the global golfing contingent.
Meeting Watson wasn’t just special because of his stellar career; no, it was also because he personifies everything that’s so great about this sport.
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