My name is Brett Geeves, and I am addicted to golf.
I blame the system. Not the systems of society, created by government, or other oft-criticised institutions for the socio-economic reasons that addiction is too often attributed.
This is purely cricket’s fault.
As a professional cricketer, you are granted access to more spare time and free money than is humanely fair; particularly when nurses, teachers and a whole gaggle of other professionals are actually contributing to the greater good of the world, only to join the seemingly endless rat race queue for rising house prices, growing debt and a life where only a hefty inheritance can save them.
Some cricketers foolishly choose the punt for the endless supply of free time afforded them. Others lock themselves in dark rooms, overpowered by the bloodthirsty desire to save the world as virtual soldiers. The enemy? Some pre-pubescent teen with a headset and a face full of acne in an equally dark Pittsburgh room.
But the majority are drawn to the addiction of late night eBay, bidding for putters that do not fit the alignment of their dominant eye, shoes that never fit and drivers that arrive with the brand name displayed in a default Times New Roman font and made from titanium and carbon substitute: pâper maché.
Ricky Ponting is our front man: New Zealand Open success and recipient of Jordan Spieth’s verbal approval.
Greg Blewett is the bass player: South Australian Interstate team.
Dean Jones provides the rhythm: PGA Legends Tour.
And Shane Warne – hole-in-one at Augusta National and sub-par round at St Andrews – is the mad drummer with the drug problem (sure, weight-loss pills don’t have the same edge as hard-core recreational drugs, but it’s been a problem all the same).
These guys are the profiled members of the Australian Professional Cricketers Golf Band; responsible for confirming all of my introduction, the opinion of every other professional athlete in the country and the public’s opinion that professional cricketers are paid too much to gamble, golf, eat expensive avocado-filled paninis and play computer games.
To be honest, my addiction to golf during my cricketing days got to the point where I would hide behind a purpose-built sleep fortress of dumbbells and fit balls during our Wednesday morning gym sessions, so I could play my weekly Stableford round free of the general soreness that physical exercise causes your body.
Not surprisingly, it was that same lack of dedication, work ethic, preparation and maturity to development that had my golf handicap forever swinging between 3 and 5. Everyone has a limit to where their natural ability can take them. And through the foundations of the muscle memory formed from the high-hands backlift that plagued my batting – wide to third slip (outside to in), giving me strong access to legside play and a pull shot – my golf would always be limited to playing a strong cut, many duffed chip shots through the steepness of attack and a putting stroke that looked like a one-armed monkey trying to lick its only elbow.
Since July last year, I have completed one coaching session per week with a qualified PGA teaching professional and then one other solo practice session around a weekly game and the Tasmania-based Toogood Amateur events (state team qualifiers) that run over the summer months.
And you won’t believe it, remarkably, I improved enough to tick off my summer goal of being able to strut into my home club as a scratch marker.
Practice, who knew!?
I finished as the fourth seed in the Tasmanian Amateur, only to get bundled out in the first round of matchplay. And I was invited to be an actual member of the field in the Riversdale Cup, much to the dismay of the three guys that drew me in the pro-am, who laughed loudly at my scratch handicap and then told me I’d be refused entry to the proceeding luncheon, stating it was only for the real golfers.
There were also a whole range of 86s in tournament play, duffs, three-putts and misalignment causing severe snap hooks off the tee.
But that is the lure of golf. Each day, each hole, each individual shot offers something completely new. And it is only you who can take responsibility for the good, and the bad. There are no amounts of teammates, umpires or politics that can save you from the swinging blade of the golf gods.
And therein lies the narcissistic addiction. Golf is all about me. I don’t need, or want, salvation from the swing thoughts that plague me 24/7.