What we re­ally talk about in­side the ropes

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Golf Digest - Oliver Bekker.

Ithink most fans would be very sur­prised by the con­ver­sa­tions that go on dur­ing tour­na­ments. When my cad­die and I are wait­ing on a tee box or stand­ing in a fair­way, it might look like we’re in deep de­bate over what club to hit and how, but nine times out of 10 we’re not talk­ing about any­thing re­motely re­lated to golf. Ev­ery­body out here knows to speak just above a whis­per so the gallery won’t hear.And ob­vi­ously, if there’s a TV mi­cro­phone in sight, we keep it clean. No sense get­ting fined for telling a story.

I usu­ally play six rounds a week. Most are over four hours, with the oc­ca­sional pro-am five­some that drags past six hours. If I was think­ing about golf even half the time, I’d go in­sane. Sure, if it’s the back nine on Sun­day and we’re on the leader board, I don’t mind giv­ing a lit­tle ex­tra at­ten­tion to each shot, but other than that, my cad­die knows to keep it to sports (foot­ball, bas­ket­ball, base­ball, hockey, go-cart bal­let . . . what­ever), restau­rants, random gos­sip (usu­ally sourced from other cad­dies), movies, mu­sic, va­ca­tions, jokes.

My lat­est cad­die ac­tu­ally reads joke books. He’s al­ways got new ones, of vary­ing length, and they’re nearly all ter­ri­ble.The kind that be­gin, “An Ir­ish­man, a Scots­man and an Amer­i­can are walk­ing across a bridge, yada, yada.” My cad­die’s prob­a­bly a lit­tle loud for some, but I think he’s one of the best.When things go south out here, it’s es­sen­tial to be around some­one who main­tains a sense of hu­mour.

There are cer­tain play­ers we’d rather not have in our group. I ac­tu­ally don’t mind play­ing prac­tice rounds with a lot of the grinders, but once the tour­na­ment starts, they be­come hard to watch.The rou­tines get longer and longer. It makes me tired, even im­pa­tient. Then there are the play­ers who would love noth­ing more than to tell you all about the lat­est dis­cov­ery they made with their swing coach, or the the­ory be­hind the grind on their new gap wedge. Please. Stop. If one of those dudes in­vites me to play a prac­tice round, I’ll just text back what­ever it takes to get out of it. Sorry, but don’t want to play that early.Thanks, but can’t play in the af­ter­noon.

It’s not that I don’t love the game and its sto­ries. Of course I do. But when you’re at the golf course nearly ev­ery day, and your per­for­mance has di­rect bear­ing on your life and liveli­hood, it’s easy to get too tan­gled in it. I think we’ve all been there. For me, I’ve learned that play­ing well for four hours in a row, let alone four days, is ba­si­cally im­pos­si­ble if my head is spin­ning that hard. My rule is, I only think about golf when my glove is on, or about 45 sec­onds per shot. So, my to­tal con­cen­tra­tion in a round is never go­ing to amount to much more than 50 or 55 min­utes.That’s how I stay re­laxed, fresh.And it’s work­ing. Last sea­son I en­joyed a solid jump for­ward in the rank­ings, and I can play any tour­na­ment I want in 2017.

In pro-ams, I con­sider my­self fairly friendly. I have no idea how I com­pare to other pros, of course, be­cause we’re al­ways alone with our am­a­teur play­ing part­ners. But I’d wa­ger that I’m more out­go­ing than a lot of play­ers.That said, I’ll take stretches to walk alone. Just go down the op­po­site side of a hole for what seems like no rea­son at all. Be­cause if my play­ing part­ners are go­ing to be talk­ing golf non­stop, I’m go­ing to need a break.

My cad­die, too. – WITH MAX ADLER

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