Competitive dad

First published on the Golf Monthly website on Saturday 11th June 2011

I had a glimpse of my inner self yesterday. I’d like to say it was while I was doing some volunteer charity work or completing an “Iron Man” triathlon. Sadly, it was at my daughter’s nursery school sports day.

Being self-employed gives me great freedom to take time off during the week and I always use this time to great effect – playing golf, watching golf, practising golf etc…

On this occasion, however, I was cajoled into spending two hours of my “free time” watching four year olds walking down a track while trying to balance rubber rings on their heads. It’s very difficult to do this when you’re repeatedly turning round to smile and wave at your parents on the sideline.

Anyway, the whole thing was very cute, although perhaps not the most impressive sporting spectacle I’ve ever witnessed.

I had another agenda for the morning though as, a week or so ago, Jessie (wife) made me aware that the nursery sports day features a fathers’ race.

“Oh no, no, no,” I said on hearing this. “I certainly won’t be going in for that. I’ve got nothing to prove.” This was a complete lie. I knew at that point I would be going in for the fathers’ race and that I was very keen to win it.

As more of the children’s races reached their thrilling conclusion yesterday morning, the prospect of the fathers’ race loomed ever larger.

“How are you feeling about running?” Jessie (wife) enquired within earshot of a group of other parents.

“Reluctant,” I replied with a chuckle. Actually, I was completing my final mental preparations and deciding whether or not to do a crouching start.

When the teacher called the dads to the start line I made a point of not moving first. I waited until one of the other fathers coaxed me out of my seat. In a, seemingly, token gesture I took my wallet and phone from my pocket and left them with Jessie. I did a thigh stretch en-route to the start line and got a couple of laughs. I wasn’t trying to be funny.

Luckily I’d chosen to wear trainers. Well, not luckily really. I pretty much never wear trainers but I’d been careful to select my wardrobe for the day: loose fitting jeans and a baggy jumper – very casual yet easy to move in, and a pair of “fashion” trainers – not overtly sporty but fit for the job.

We lined up and I assessed the opposition. Very difficult to read as most, if not all, the dads were adopting the same external approach as me: Not dressed for sport and laughing about not having done this sort of thing for years. I can’t say for sure but I’d guess that, inside, at least some of them were as keen to prove something to themselves as I was.

That innate manly competitiveness never goes away. On the start line I suddenly went into a sporting bubble. I was thinking: just relax, long powerful strides, keep looking ahead. For a moment I was unaware of the kids, the mums, the grannies and dogs at the side, all that mattered was the finishing tape in the distance… totally pathetic really.

It’s the attitude that keeps me obsessed by golf though I suppose. I just love competing. Mainly its with myself but if I can beat some other people in the process, all the better.

I’m playing in the Medal this afternoon and I’m going to try and remember the feeling of pure determination I had on the start line at the kiddies’ sports day… oh my god, what an utter pillock.

And did I at least win the fathers’ race? Well, yes I suppose I did. Not that I went on about it much. In fact I haven’t mentioned it to Jessie once yet this morning.

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