No industry or walk of life has been unaffected by coronavirus and new lockdown restrictions. Professional golf dramatically so, with all tournaments postponed or cancelled.
We caught up with six Australian male Tour players from Bangkok to Brisbane to see how they are spending their enforced time away from the game.
Cameron Smith has been fishing regularly and maintaining the pristine lawn at his Florida home.
Marc Leishman has unsurprisingly also turned green thumb, burning off the dead grass of his immaculate backyard, whilst also taking on his two young sons, Oliver and Harvey, at “Garage Hockey” according to his Instagram page.
Marc Leishman is wasting no time getting to work prepping his beloved lawn for the spring. What an absolute Dad legend. pic.twitter.com/mYC1ku8ks5— Outside The Cut (@OutsideTheCut) March 13, 2020
Countless other professionals are setting up home practise nets and putting studios, as well as taking part in seemingly every social media challenge known to man.
For the players we spoke to – Dimi Papadatos, Scott Hend, Travis Smyth, Lucas Herbert, Jake McLeod and Maverick Antcliff – it has been a mixture of relaxation, stress, Netflix, fishing and plenty more.
“I’ve been fishing pretty much every chance I get when the weather’s good,” Papadatos told Golf Australia magazine this week. “Taking out my tinnie and went out with my mate Steven Binns yesterday and got a couple of Yellow Fin Tuna, so far the time off has been pretty eventful.
“One was about 30 kilos. We caught four for the day. Probably the career highlight I think.
“I am playing nine holes with my Dad down at Toukley tody, just having a whack and filling in the day. The weather is a bit average so I can’t fish today, so I’ve got to do plan B and play some golf.
“I am on fire at the moment when it comes to fishing. My world ranking has definitely gone up, I think I have broken into the top-50 in the world now, after last week.
“I always like going to gym, it’s sort of my hobby, I don’t really do it to improve my golf or anything, I just like trying to keep fit and active. It’s good, I’ve got a few weights in the backyard and a couple of spare tires that help with my training and keep busy, and at least give me something to do. Do a bit of that in the morning then go for a jog or something, then try and fill in the rest of the day with fishing or golf or whatever it is.
“Obviously on the golf side, everything just comes to a halt now, but at the moment it’s just about trying to make the most of having a little break and not having to plan ahead for another tournament or anything like that, because I think since I’ve been a pro I have never really had that opportunity.
RIGHT: Papadatos estimates his fishing world ranking has risen significantly during his time off. PHOTO: Dimi Papadatos.
“Even as an amateur, I think I got injured when I was about 17, I had a stress fracture in my back and I was out for three months, and that is probably the only break I have ever had from golf, so I am sort of trying to take advantage. Just relax and switch off a little bit. It’s probably a good time to do some practise and work on the game, but I think it’s a good opportunity to freshen up, and sort of a guilt free freshen up because you don’t have to step away while everyone else is playing too much.
“I think it is more about playing a couple of times a week, doing a little bit of practise here and there, but more just keep yourself interested. Because leading into tournaments, there is a lot of practise and training and trying to get sharp, so it’s pretty full on getting into tournaments. So to keep yourself tournament ready, while there is nothing coming up is pretty exhausting. There is no real point trying to do that at the moment.
“And with the schedule, by the time they announce something, we are going to have at least a month’s notice, it’s not going to just pop up, so there will be plenty of time to get ready, so just in the meantime, do a little bit of practise, play for fun with my mates and my dad, and just chill out is what I am up to.”
“I am supposed to be in the gym and trying to put on a bit of muscle and whatever, but the place we are staying at now with the family they have shut down everything as I guess they have all around the world, so I haven’t got a gym,” Hend told Golf Australia from a hotel room in Bangkok. “So, trying to not eat too much crappy food and just try and stay in some sort of flexible state. Just trying to stay sane and spend time with the family and hope that they don’t go crazy as well.
“I had a bit of an injury and pulled out of Qatar and flew to Thailand to go to the hospital and get checked out. And I thought, the way things were moving along quite quickly, my sense of reasoning was Bangkok was closer to China and they might be a step ahead of what’s going on and so the family could fly here rather than me be on a plane with the issue I had, and spend time here together.
“Then we could either get out of here back to America or get back to Australia if needs be, but that obviously hasn’t gone very well, because both places are in a bit of a problem and they have issued a state of emergency here as well, so I guess wherever you go in the world it wasn’t going to work out but at least we are all together.
“The hotel is fine, it’s a big hotel but only at about five percent occupancy, so from what I have been told, they are shutting down five different hotels and trying to funnel everyone into one hotel, which I am not too comfortable with. Say the hotel has a 300 person capacity, they put 260 people in there, I don’t really want to be in a place where there is over 200 people hanging around with the family. It’s something that we have no choice in, so we are trying to find out another way to stay somewhere. Obviously you don’t really want to be hanging out where there is a million people doing the breakfast thing when you are trying to self-isolate.
“My plan when I found out the European Tour cancelled a few tournaments was to have five weeks off and not even touch the clubs, but I didn’t know what was going to happen with the injury, so I was either going to have five or six weeks off, but fortunately I haven’t had to take any time away from the Tour except for a week and a half to recover.
RIGHT: Scott Hend has been holed up in a hotel room in Thailand with his family after withdrawing from his last European Tour start. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
“And then I wanted to take a break, because over Christmas I didn’t really get anytime off with the way the schedule through Europe and Asia fell. So, this forced season hiatus was a good and a bad thing, but now it is turning into a bad thing. I guess we won’t be playing till late June-early July.
“I’ve been having plenty of conversations with people on Twitter during the break, I have no issues talking to the everyday punter and if people have questions, I’ll answer the best I can. You may not like my answers but I’ll give an answer to pretty much any question.
“I don’t usually do much political stuff, but there were a few comments on social media that I thought I had to address and I said my part. But I try and keep it more in a sporting and lifestyle thing and it’s all good fun and that’s what Twitter is great about. If you don’t agree with it then that’s fine, that’s the good part about it. There’s always some people on there that don’t like you, but so be it. Not everyone likes you in normal life either.
“The virus is quite a concerning thing. I am more concerned about the older people I know who are pretty much crapping themselves right now and also my Tour pro friends that live on a weekly basis. They aren’t fortunate like me that I’ve got some money in the bank because I haven’t gone and bought million dollar houses and cars, I have stayed well within my means and we have got enough money to survive, even if its 12 months not making any money, we don’t spend a lot.
“My plan in the future once everything dies down, is I will still do what I have got to do and travel the world despite this situation, but a lot of people won’t be able to, because they’re not going to have any money. That’s the scary part about it, not only health wise but financially it’s going to destroy a lot people, they’re distressed already, but some guys I know, they are going to be ruined from it. And it’s a little bit depressing and upsetting in that way. I am not really thinking about it as myself, because I am fortunate enough to have had a good couple of years and I can get by, I am more worried about my mates and the other people that can’t.
“Anyone with a family. It’s alright if you’re a single guy and you are battling away on the Tour, that was always the way when I was younger, you battled it out and you have no money and you’re used to having no money, but the guys that have a family that were right on the edge of making it or not, some of these guys, I’m not going to say they’re done, but it’s going to be hard for them to try and come back out and afford to do anything.
“They’re going to have a lot of bills, a lot of debt and it’s just a sad situation. I know it’s a global thing, it’s not just one country or industry, there is a lot of people and places in the same situation.”