Playing golf for a living might seem a pretty easy deal.
Walking open expanses and hitting a ball as a job is something most would trade in our lot for instantly.
But it isn’t all private jets and huge pay cheques like many think it is, especially for our Aussie pros. Even those fortunate enough to play the biggest circuits in the world, like Lucas Herbert and Su Oh, have to deal with an extremely long “season”, excessive travel and mental wear and tear after committing their life to one of the most frustrating pursuits known to the human race.
All that is before even thinking about teeing it up the week of Christmas in an event not offering all important world ranking points, or an official professional win. Such as this week’s Sandbelt Invitational.
However, as has been repeated almost ad nauseum already over the first two days at Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne, this isn’t an ordinary tournament and Mike Clayton and Geoff Ogilvy aren’t your run of the mill tournament hosts.
Especially not for LPGA star Oh, who currently sits in a share of 15th at five over par.
“I think if my friends weren’t part of this and if it was just 60 women playing without the Sandbelt golf courses, I probably wouldn’t play,” Oh told Golf Australia magazine. “But I think this is the right format for the future and I want to be a part of it to see how it pans out.”
Oh’s feelings are certainly not unique to her just because of her close relationship with Clayton, who caddied for her at the Rio Olympics, and Ogilvy whom she has played plenty of Sandbelt golf with in the past.
““It’s hard not to play and not be part of something special,” she said.
The Victorian’s thoughts backed up by all and sundry in the field of 63 players lucky enough to take part in the invite only event that is certain to continue to grow in stature in years to come.
“I reckon it’s just great fun. Playing these golf courses in these conditions is awesome,” Marcus Fraser, who currently sits in second place said.
Added 36-hole leader Brady Watt, “I love this stuff. I speak to Clayts about this architecture stuff, I just really enjoy the challenge.”
“I think if my friends weren’t part of this and if it was just 60 women playing without the Sandbelt golf courses, I probably wouldn’t play." - Su Oh.
Oh lies five back of the top woman in the field so far, Grace Kim, and 10 in arrears of Watt, believing her tournament chances are as good as gone.
But that didn’t stop her praising the event and its founders, and even suggesting that the mixed format with only one winner might be the way forward at the current time rather than a Vic Open style concurrent tournament at the present time.
“I think this is the correct way to go in Australia because I’m not sure we can get 60 players in the field on the women’s side,” she said based purely on the number of touring pros based in Australia at the moment.
And although silverware being handed to her by some of her mentors in the game might be out of the questions this week, Oh is remaining upbeat that she might just add a little early gift before St. Nick arrives on Saturday.
“Hopefully I’ll play well and it will be a nice Christmas present.”