15 November 2020
Hello… Remember me?
This might be a long one, so grab a cup of tea, coffee or beer(5 o’clock somewhere) and hope you enjoy this blog, it’s been a while. I really have not had any ambition to do any writing of late but thought it poignant, being Masters Sunday to drop something down on the keyboard.
I’m currently in my 5th week of Quarentine out of what will be 6 in a 12 week spell, so I guess I’m getting pretty good at this isolation thing, that or people just really don’t like me! Either way, I hope you enjoy this insight…
Little did I know that writing my last blog on March 5th in Jordan airport was going to be my last for 7 months… crazy how the world has changed in such little time! After such a long hiatus from golf I didn’t quite know how to start this, what to write or frankly what to say that hasn’t already been said on numerous news channels on an hourly basis for the last 7 months. This is a little whistle stop tour of what’s been happening with me during the pandemic… From life in Abu Dhabi when this all started , back to the UK eventually late this summer and then back to the sandpit again where I currently find myself.
Looking back on the year, I think it’s safe to say my golf year all but ended around 17th March 2020. After getting off a flight from Jordan into Abu Dhabi knowing the Mena Tour had been cancelled/postponed till further notice, it was then a week or so later my summer events in the UK all got cancelled and the realization that this pandemic would have a far reaching affect, more than I ever could have ever imagined.
Being in Abu Dhabi, lock down was pretty tough. From the off they had very strict measures in place, businesses shut down, apart from Medical and Supermarkets and they imposed a curfew from 6am-9pm where you could only be outside to buy food or receive medical treatment unless you were an essential worker. If not you had to stay inside, period. If you did have to go out outside the curfew hours of 9pm-6am, you had to register your vehicle or you were fined. Each offense, like not wearing a mask in public or not social distancing would lead to a minimum £1000 fine, which jumped up to £11000 for breaking quarantine rules. They didn’t mess around and everyone living in the UAE knew the rules and what was expected of them so from the start. It was a massive adjustment but also very reassuring that they had set clear guidelines from the beginning and were taking the pandemic seriously.
There have for sure been some very dark days over the last few months for quite a few of us and I would 100% include myself in that category. I’m normally a massively, positive, bubbly person but being stuck inside, 17 floors up in our apartment in Abu Dhabi did not sit very well with me… I felt like a dog, just constantly looking out the window waiting for something to happen.
If this time has taught me anything, is that I don’t do well doing nothing or not having a routine or purpose. It started to take its toll after only a few days into the first lockdown, when the highlight of my day was walking to the supermarket, sweating in a face mask. The thoughts of the unknown at the time were literally crippling me, each day I would wake up with what felt like little, to no purpose and it was only a few weeks prior I was in contention to win a golf event in Jordan! It was crazy how quickly life had changed! The “bad flu” that I called it in my last blog was clearly a little worse than that, good job I wasn’t a virologist or we would be looking similar to a Trump Campaign right now.
Fortunately for me, Lauren has been a rockstar, recovering from surgery in December and getting back to full fitness and health, she was able to work from home over Zoom to cover us. If she wasn’t able to do that, we would have been properly in the S£*t as Golf is a 100% performance based industry and my revenue stream dried up over night.
During lockdown I wanted to make sure I didn’t waste the time off, sitting down and being lazy is just not my personality and I wanted to make the best of a bad situation. I have definitely kept myself busy! When Yas Links was shut due to restrictions for the month, I took the time to recap some stuff from University and started a financial analyst course online. Later on I completed a month long Mindfulness course with my sport physiologist and a awesome chap, who spent a bunch of time with some Tibetan monks(randomly interesting), been trying to learn to cook (some meals more successfully than others), started making Granola(random) and have come to terms with my mild coffee addiction…
After months in the sand pit and my first proper summer spent in the Middle East, I finally decided that in August I needed to escape the heat and head back to the UK and play some events. Practicing in 45+ degree heat for pretty much three months was becoming virtually impossible and in the end started to make me feel pretty drained and irritable. It was getting so bad that we made a rule with the guys we were playing with, you could step in and send anyone off the course if you thought they were struggling or looked a bit shakey due to the heat… It worked well in 50+ degree conditions but could you imagine doing that in the UK? Be a great system to get rid of some less than desirable playing partners in the roll up :)
I had seen that some of the mini tours were opening up in the UK and had schedules in place, so planned for 15 one and two day events to keep me occupied and get the competitive juices flowing again which I was very much looking forward too. Getting back to the UK was great, after the two weeks quarantine, being able to practice at Remedy Oak was so good. The place is such a great spot, the weather at the time in early September was fantastic and lovely to catch up with the members and staff. It’s great to be attached to such a great facility and always look forward to playing and practicing there when I’m back in Dorset.
When Lauren arrived to work in London in the middle of September I decided to head up to London and make sure she got through quarantine in a somewhat sane manner. After spending every day with her for 6 months in Abu Dhabi it was amazing to see her again. Two weeks further on zoom took its toll on her and I was so grateful to spend my time up at Centurion Golf Club. A huge shout-out goes to Scott and Freddie and their team at Centurion golf club near St Albans. They were very kind to let me play and practice whilst I was in London and is another fantastic facility to be able to utilize. I was very honored at the end of my month in London that they made me an international ambassador of the club. If you can, it’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area or traveling into the UK for a few days as the course and clubhouse is superb and a real treat like Remedy Oak down in Dorset.
With my time being short in the UK I wanted to take this opportunity to say a massive thanks to a new partner in Hendy Group and Pure golf. The were superb in helping me with a car whilst I was back in the UK and had the pleasure of driving a Kia Rio around to get to my events which was very much appreciated. The Rio was a cracking little motor from my local Kia garage in Ferndown, if you in the Market for a new car, the team at Hendy were fantastic help from start to finish, so go and check them out.
In regards to my golf, it was a mixed bag for my time in the UK. It was always going to be tough after such a long break from competitive golf but I gave it a good go but didn’t quite get the results I had hoped for. My planned 15 events ended up being 5 one day events after cancelation after cancelation and unfortunately tours pulling events at very short notice did become a theme for the summer and very frustrating. The Covid excuse has become part of the times it seems in all industries at the moment and sure it will continue for the foreseeable future unfortunately! Rounds of level par, -3, Level par, -5 and another Level par was the best I could muster up on The Clutch and TP Tour. I never really got going in the sporadic one day shootouts. Unfortunately, the one day events are so so different to a normal 3/4 day event. As great as it was an opportunity to play, you just don’t really get anytime to build into the event, it’s one round and your back in the Kia Rio on the road home. You play one day, then wait possibly 1 or 2 weeks till the next event so never really got into any competitive rhythm. My play was solid throughout but no fireworks unfortunately which you needed to win,would of been great to just get a few more events/ rounds under my belt but it was not meant to be. It was great to be back competing and made me realize how much I had missed playing, so hopefully things can return at some point next year and I can give it a better go and I will be ready whenever that time comes.
Unfortunately my time in the UK ended in more self isolation, in the last two weeks we were track and traced we had to stay away for 10 days, even with two negative test results. The time me and Lauren had set aside to see family and friends ended up doing home workouts in the garden and doing question of sport zoom quizzes with friends. It’s a real shame it ended this way as we wanted to see a lot more people but the restrictions have just not allowed it this time around. I’m very much looking forward to getting back out in the sunshine and currently have another 9 days left on my Quarentine period in Abu Dhabi with what can only be described as an ASBO on my wrist, if you leave your apartment you get hit with a £10k fine, so think I will be staying put 17 floors up.
My goal like always is to use this opportunity to keep getting better, fitter and stronger. So far during this pandemic I have used my time wisely. I have a great team behind me in Mike Bolt and Ali Parlane at Claud Harmon in Dubai and Karl Morris here in the UK, so with the help and guidance from them I’m sure I will come out of this situation better than I went in and ready for whatever regular life will be when the time is right.
Huge thanks goes out to my sponsors at this time, Kitchen Elegance, Callaway and my shareholders, literally couldn’t do it without you. Also Remedy Oak, Yas Links, and Centurion for allowing me to practice at some of the best facilities in the world, you have made a very tricky time, still very productive and enjoyable.
I look forward to being able to share with you when my next run of events will be, at this stage I literally have no idea when that might be but will keep you posted. I really do hope it’s sooner rather than later. These have been and will continue to be testing times for us all! With the UK in lockdown I really hope you can all stay safe and sane for the coming weeks. My advice… find a routine, something to get you up in the morning! Massive thanks goes out to all those who are keeping us safe around the world, we owe you a beverage or two! Stay positive, stay safe and hopefully see you all out on the golf course soon!
Thanks for reading along, drop me a message if you want to find out more…
Now sit back, relax and enjoy Sunday at the Masters. Who is your pick to be wearing the green jacket?
All the best Luke