DEEP down, Michael Sim knows the answer, but hearing it from the man himself would somehow make his current predicament seem so much clearer.
As Sim progressed from junior golf in Western Australia to the Australian Institute of Sport to the top of world amateur golf and a breathtaking start to his professional career, Ramsay McMaster was by his side. Not merely a revolutionary golf physiotherapist who was helping to build a young body capable of coping with the demands of elite-level golf and subsequently manage a stress fracture in his back that curtailed Sim’s career, McMaster was a trusted confidant and motivator.
A man blessed with boundless energy, McMaster had the ability to make all those around him believe their wildest dreams were in fact well within reach. Truth be told, they were often dreams that would never be realised but McMaster had a way of convincing you it was possible. That anything was possible. He dared you to give up on them and you dared not let him down.
It’s been six years since McMaster passed away suddenly from a stroke at age 49 after a run along his favourite sand dunes in Sorrento, south of Melbourne, and coincidentally six years since Sim was spat out of the ruthless US PGA Tour machine.
There’s not a week that goes by when Sim doesn’t think of McMaster, his influence and perhaps what he might say if he could ask him just one more question.
“He’d definitely be a guy I could lean on right now for some advice,” Sim told Australian Golf Digest. “He was a great man and a great man for the sport. He loved challenging all of us and trying to develop us into becoming better players.
“He was by my side for a long time helping me through those injury years and those development years. He definitely comes across my mind each week and it was a sad loss for golf in Australia.
“I’d probably just talk to him about where I’m at with my body and with golf.”
And he knows the answer he’d receive. “Probably just hard work and to get some goals down,” Sim reasons. “Think about what I still want to achieve in this game. That’s probably what he’d say to me and it’s a question I’ve probably had the past couple of years.”
Now 33 years of age, Sim and wife Simone Beaufils – sister of Aussie touring pro Ray Beaufils – are expecting their first child on the Sunday of the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, an imminent arrival that puts in jeopardy his position in not only this tournament but also the Victorian Open the week prior.
For someone looking down the barrel of the skinniest schedule of his professional career, it’s less than ideal timing but through his struggles and now having found happiness personally, Sim’s priorities have changed markedly.
He broke an eight-year winless drought at the Isuzu Queensland Open last October, shot 62 in a Web.com Tour event last year and is injury-free. But his playing future is more uncertain now than it has ever been, having missed the final stage of Japan Golf Tour qualifying by a single shot.
Cleaning out the storeroom he had kept in the United States gave Sim the chance to look back at old footage of a young golfer with the world at his beckoning, gentle reminders given of how he looked in his prime. As he showed at the Queensland Open, that prime has by no means passed; he just needs a place to showcase his skills again.
“Unless you win on the [US] PGA Tour you can get thrown off pretty quick,” Sim says. “Even right now with a baby coming along, the drive to play the main tour is probably not where it was 10 years ago. That’s going to be a challenge over the next few years, to get back over there and play internationally.
“It’s not all about golf any more. I still want to play; it’s just a matter of finding somewhere to play. It’s more the drive and a bit of doubt. After six years off the tour, it’s like, ‘Can I actually do it again?’ I think a lot of golfers have asked the same question of themselves.”
A question Ramsay McMaster would always have a definitive answer for.