Golf: Golfing injuries are entirely in the head

EVEN THOSE of us who have a passion for golf and thrill to the exploits of great players have to concede that the strain it imposes is almost entirely mental.

The game is played at a walk and the most terrifying thing a golfer sees is wind bending the pin, a downhill putt or rough that resembles an abandoned garden. A golfer's idea of trauma is a ball plugged in sand or falling short into water.

You don't need a cuts man, plastercasts or treatments for concussion. You bleed where nobody can see it. You don't have to run fast, hit hard. You get to keep all your teeth. You don't need a helmet, shin pads, chest protectors, gumshields or the presence of a neuro surgeon.

When a golfer says "Something terrible happened to me yesterday", he doesn't mean severed ligaments, a ripped knee cartilage, a busted collarbone. You don't come across old golfers whose speech is slurred or who have brows thickened by scar tissue. It doesn't take a week for a golfer's bruises to heal, the blood to clot.

Golfers hit a little white ball with instruments that wouldn't look out of place in an exhibition of space technology. A lot of the time they get to play in locations that can only be found in the upmarket section of travel brochures. They don't even have to carry their own equipment. Their clothing is fashion co-ordinated. The best of them earn millions without ever having to fear that injury could bring about premature retirement.

This isn't to take a swipe at professional golfers, but simply to put their frequent complaints into perspective: the state of the greens, narrowly cut fairways, pin placements.

Another thing about tournament golf is that youth has no dominion. The end of a career doesn't come at a time when people in other walks of life are upwardly mobile. Thanks to the popularity of the US Seniors Tour there are plenty of superannuated players still earning in multiples of seven figures.

There are young and youngish stars presently firing the ball around Wentworth in the Volvo PGA Championship but until Sam Torrance, 46 in August, dropped three shots at the 16th he was right up with them. Even after falling off the leader board, back to three under, the veteran Scot is not entirely out of contention.

With a total of 21 tour victories, eight Ryder Cup appearances and prize- money well in excess of pounds 4m, Torrance probably takes comfort from the philosophical air that he now conveys on the golf course.

Despite losing a shot at the previous hole, things were still looking good for Torrance, playing with Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal when he teed up at the 16th. Torrance's mistake then was not to go with his first instinct. After thinking seriously about a three wood he decided on his driver, hooked left into trees and had to play three from the tee. A triple-bogey seven dropped him back to three under.

Named along with Ken Brown as one of Mark James's lieutenants for the Ryder Cup in Boston later this year, Torrance has given up drink but not ideas about making the team. Yesterday, he needed the cigarettes and his golf bag. Seven missed fairways, three failed attempts to get up and down from greenside bunkers.

After getting away with a mis-hit fairway wood from the rough at the 18th you could imagine Torrance humming: "But I'm still here." He didn't know exactly how but of course he's seen it all before.

Seen Langer in a threatening position, too - with the first-round leader and three-time winner of this tournament coming in at eight under, just two shots off the pace.

The unfailing impression is that Torrance still enjoys his golf, something that cannot presently be said about Nick Faldo, who is four years younger.

Maybe if Faldo had a wider view of life he would find it easier to overcome the demons that now haunt him on the fairway.

Yesterday's round of 74 after going off at one over the cut mark left Faldo nowhere. Trudging the course with a heavy stride, bereft of the old certainty, Faldo's loss of form is a reminder that time does slow respectfully to a crawl for all of them.

Life and Style
health
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
News
news
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine