Absence makes the heart grow fonder

John Craven
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Sunrise across The Montgomerie Course at Carton House. Photo by Kevin Markham

If you’re reading this, I’m home Mam, after a month in Australia to recharge and refresh after a relentless season covering the great sport of golf.

I felt very lucky to escape a bit of Irish winter. The short, damp days and the long, cold nights. Then we landed to eight degrees in Melbourne and drove four hours to find snow on Mount Bogong. Mount Beauty Golf Course was waterlogged and I resorted to paying seven dollars for a can of Guinness to bubble a stew and thaw by the stove. Still, at least the snakes were still hibernating, and it was nice to put the phone away and sleep without seeing leaderboards in my dreams for a change.

Great golf stories still filtered through of course, despite Elon Musk’s efforts to shut down Twitter. Another win for Séamus Power was special. More Harrington heroics and a monster cheque for Leona Maguire hardly a surprise. And three fresh faces promoted to the DP World Tour in Tom McKibbin, John Murphy and Gary Hurley; the latter’s pro career long capturing my imagination as I watched his Walker Cup star crash from the sky through countless setbacks only to now burn brighter than ever.

As for the rest of it? The Mayakoba, the RSM and the Houston Open? To be quite honest, I lived happily ever after without them, much like I would every year, say, if there was a two month off-season to sit back and winter golf-free, digesting the year that’s been before a rumble in your stomach slowly surfaces crying out for more.

But what about your job?

Don’t fret. We’d be fine at the magazine. Plenty of local stories to cover, personalities to meet, industry pieces to bang the spotlight on and much more in between. Instead I’ve logged back onto the laptop to more emails than I’m willing to open, including one detailing Jon Rahm’s victory at the season-ending Tour Championship, and another, just a few days later announcing that the 2023 DP World campaign is already underway.

It’s too much too soon – back to work blues talking or not. And this isn’t a dig at golf. I love Liverpool FC but not every week. And I realise golf is a global game that follows the sun through time zones and hemispheres neglected enough as it is by the schedule already, which makes unclogging the calendar tricky. But in my mind, there’s enough deadwood to be culled and strong stops to condense into a ten month global calendar, and it’s in the players’ best interests, and the fans, to introduce a hibernation period from December through January to ensure everyone’s grá for the game continues to flicker and never burns out.

Sure, that means no QBE Shootout or Sony Open on the PGA Tour, and pushing DP World stops in Australia, South Africa and the Middle East to either side of December and January. But would the game be poorer for it? Not in my book. In fact, for once, I might just miss it.

Unlike the snakes who slithered from their hiding holes when an extended winter in country Victoria ceased with an overdue appearance from the baking sun. I nearly stood on a red-bellied black a couple of days before flying home. Two metres long. Enough venom to kill me. And a reminder that home mightn’t be perfect, but thanks to Saint Patrick, we can search for our wayward drives in the wispy high hay without a care in the world. And that has to count for something.

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