After throwing the towel in and being adamant that I would never be back, I have decided to get back to playing professional golf 6 months later. At the time it was a decision that I had thought long and hard about as I wasn’t enjoying what it meant to be a professional golfer but I now know that you can’t put a price the simple things in life, or your overall happiness. Happiness is a number of things but most of all to me it feels like “perspective.”
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ray Beaufils a professional golfer from the Gold Coast Australia who like many in my spiked shoes have had a lot of ups and downs from playing the game that we all play to love and love to hate. I knew why I gave up golf at the time but looking back on it now, I wanted to write why I’m playing again, what gave me that drive to beat those demons and what I plan to do to not end up there again.
First and foremost, why did I give away the game that had given so much to me? I had always said that if I can give back to the game a little of what it had given me and make a career out of it well, that would be a win in itself. I guess it boiled down to a number of factors. One being how much time we spend alone and how much sacrifice being away. Time on the road isn’t the holiday that some may think. It can be long hours in airports, on buses or in hotel rooms trying to figure out what they’re saying as every channel is in Mandarin. Another struggle had to do with the pressures it put on relationships, friendships and self worth for after all, all of my friends are getting married and having kids and essentially I’m Peter Pan chasing a dream but I still want have the best of both worlds. Further more, my game was so cold at times that it felt like a snow storm that was never going to end. It wasn’t that I had lost all of my talent and it wasn’t that I wasn’t putting the work in on the range or in the gym, it was more so that I wasn’t happy because I couldn’t be myself. I also struggled at times as I believe that my friends only saw me as a professional golfer. I wasn’t putting the results on the board and that to me meant that I was failing at life. I had forgotten what it meant to be me and separate myself from my “job.”
Perspective came when I had a trip back to Phoenix for the Phoenix Open in January. It wasn’t being in which I see to be golf’s ultimate theater but it was being able to catch up with some of the friends that have become family to me over the years because of golf. Phoenix, to Atlanta to South Carolina I was reminded of the person who I want to be but finally was happy with being identified as a golfer for without golf, I wouldn’t have them in my life. Perspective also was a 10 minute chat in the second round with the round 1 leader who I had spent a little time with in the past. He gave me the time, he was interested and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t golfing anymore. He didn’t care that I didn’t get to the PGA Tour. He was interested in what made me, me.
Passion slowly returned. I found myself wanting to play, wanting to compete against my friends. It made me not want to get upset at bad shots but want to figure out why it was a “miss.” I learned to like the process again of getting better and that was something I had always told people, “Enjoy the process of getting better.” So I will, all over again.
I am extremely lucky to have the utmost and loving support of my family as without them, I would be writing as to why I’m back playing now. I look back to many amazing memories on and off the course I am continually reminded how great golf is. Without it, I would not have traveled and lived around the world making the most amazing friends as I went. I would not have had the experience of being on a “reality TV show” (Big Break Greenbrier, 2012) or felt the feeling of raising a trophy, whether it be a members competition or cash check, they all feel just as sweet as each other.
I guess the toughest thing will be the down time when I’m not playing. We are lucky that we live in such a technology filled society that enables us to contact anyone I need to in just about any country or time zone throughout the world. It also gives us the flexibility to “study” and I have made a commitment to learning Chinese mandarin (Not the worst idea I have ever had in case I do end up back in China sometime soon).
So here I am.. On the last few days of my tournament prep for two events in Papua New Guinea (thanks to the PGA Tour of Australasia for a sponsor invite). It will be a test of character more than anything as the people there deal with real life struggles everyday (perspective) but I am excited for the challenge and to get back competing (passion). If professional golf was easy, everyone would be doing it. To be the best I can be I need to keep that passion alive and keep that positive perspective on everything. Without it.. I’m only going to fall back into old habits. Sure you play to win but more so I will be playing to stay true to myself, true to the game of golf and committed to enjoying every opportunity that comes my way.