Chasing the sun: Rob Brazill under no illusions as he turns pro on Sunshine Tour

Ronan MacNamara

Robert Brazill (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/R&A via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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After a long winter spent bashing golf balls into Bernard Quigley’s indoor simulator in Naas Golf Club, Robert Brazill feels ready to step into the reality of professional golf and insists he will take nothing for granted.

Brazill is in South Africa this week for the First Stage of Sunshine Tour Qualifying School where he, Liam Grehan and Rowan Lester will be hoping to join Richie O’Donovan on South Africa’s main tour.

Having closed the door on a successful amateur career that saw him win the West of Ireland, Connacht Strokeplay and become an Irish international, the Naas man feels now is the right time to turn professional.

“It’s a good opportunity to get the season going down here in South Africa,” says Brazill. “I’ve always wanted to be a professional golfer and I think now I’m in a really good place to do it. I’m very lucky to have the two lads travelling with me to South Africa because it’s a long way away and when you’re so far from home it can be hard to really stick with it. Having two lads with me that I have been friends with for donkeys years will make it a lot easier.”

Although he has travelled with close friends, the 26-year-old is by no means travelling for a jolly up having been given a second chance at the game.

A freak injury to the scaphoid bone in his right wrist while playing in the 2020 Spanish Amateur in Seville stripped him of his love for the game so to be embarking on his professional debut is quite the turnaround.

“No I definitely couldn’t have imagined being here now. Definitely from the middle of 2020 to the start of the 2022 season there was no thought to be a professional golfer whatsoever so to be back here now and feel like I’m actually ready to give it a go is a nice place and an exciting place to be for me, my golf and my family and friends who have always wanted to see me give golf a go.”

The moral of the story: Stay away from the electric scooters!

“It was one of those electric scooters, we were staying in Seville for the Spanish Am and I had seen people flying around on them all week and I always get a bit giddy in those situations and probably do something I shouldn’t,” Brazill laughs. “I told myself all week I wasn’t getting on one and after the tournament myself a few of us went out for dinner and a couple of pints and it was destiny, outside the restaurant was three scooters. 

“I just couldn’t stop myself! I got up and was flying around and they’re quick! I was going full tilt, tried to do a jump off a high kerb and it didn’t go well, came down on my wrist. I got up though and kept going for 40 minutes. I landed on cobble lock and I remember two Spanish people looking at me as if I was some sort of idiot and in disgust, not to see if I was OK.  

“When it happened, I didn’t go to the hospital for four weeks because mentally I was thinking my wrist can’t be broken. I could move my fingers and my hand so I was convincing myself it was a bad sprain and wouldn’t be out for too long. 

“It was hard to take then when I was told it was broken. I went back playing after Covid but I hadn’t done the exercises I was told to do by the doctors and I just wasn’t enjoying golf and I took a break.” 

Golf is a funny game, if you stay away from it for so long you soon realise you don’t miss it and for Brazill, other interests took over until one gorgeous summer’s morning in Waterville in 2021 reignited the golfing flame inside him and that has continued to burn bright.

“I went down and I remember standing on the third tee, unbelievable morning at a quarter to eight watching the mist rise off the golf course and over the mountains and I thought ‘what the f**k am I doing for the last year and a half?’  

“I had been either standing on a building site or pouring concrete in a trench at that time every morning. Yet when I stood on that third tee, I thought this is the life, this is what I should be doing, standing in the most beautiful places in Ireland and the world chasing the sun and playing the game that you love. 

Brazill is chasing more than the sun this week at Benoni Country Club and he is looking to follow a conveyor belt of Naas talent (Jack Hume, Conor O’Rourke and Jonny Yates) into the paid ranks.

A relentless golf, fitness and nutrition routine has him feeling physically confident while his efforts to sound out the advice from fellow professionals have sent him to South Africa with his eyes wide open to the harsh reality of professional golf.

“I’ve been chatting to a few of the lads who have been doing it and I’m just trying to take the good bits and the bad bits from everyone but I have great people around me not just in terms of golf but with life as well.

“I’ve been chatting to Jonny and Conor as well and hopefully I can keep picking their brains I’ve been doing a lot of practice with Jack Hume as well and he’s got the bug back. We grew up in Rathsallagh together and we’ve been close for 17 years I know he never got to play much as a pro but he has no much knowledge of the game in terms of actual golf like the swing and such he is definitely a great lad to have in your corner. He can get me some answers from Paul Dunne as well which is great.”

There has been a changing of the guard when it comes to Irish amateur golf with Marc Boucher, Robert Moran and Alex Maguire all members of the famous Irish Home Internationals winning side who came back from the dead to beat England in 2021 while two-time Walker Cup player Mark Power also turned professional over the winter.

Having admittedly taken golf for granted during those two years away, Brazill has left no stone unturned in his preparation and he heads to South Africa with his eyes wide open towards the harsh realities of professional golf.

“I know even the work I’m putting in now isn’t anything near what it takes to even possibly get going as a professional golfer. You have to keep drilling it into your head how hard its is and in know you get to travel the world and go to nice places but at the end of the day you have to perform because if you don’t it can end very quickly.

“Professional golf even at a medium level is very expensive so if you’re not putting I the work and seeing the results it’s not feasible. I am willing to put in the work and hopefully I can see the benefits, if not, I can say I gave it a go.

“If the Sunshine Tour doesn’t work out I will come home and play Clutch Tour events for the remainder of the year and then go to Alps Q-Schol at the end of the year. I’d say all going well with funding I’ll go to DP World Tour Q-School as well and if I can get out to America for some mini league stuff during the summer I’d happily go through that.

A man with his head firmly screwed on after learning some big lessons over the last two years, Brazill knows he can’t simply go it alone and to help support his professional adventure Naas Golf Club will host a fundraising event on Friday May 17th.

The event is a four-person team event, €500 per team which includes dinner; raffle and auction on the night with some fantastic prizes; €100 tee-box sponsorship available for the day.

The club is also accepting donations from anyone who is unable to attend.

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