Mark Townsend imagines a life on the European TourApril, 2015
Preparing for a stint on the European Tour (in my parallel fairytale world)
For someone who struggles to play on consecutive days, is unable to chip and performs desperately under the slightest whiff of pressure (a gross 91 at the National School Finals, Kenilworth, 1988) I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how different my life would be were I playing on the European Tour.
A 26-week lifestyle – I’d probably adopt a limited schedule due to poor planning – of Monday wash day, Tuesday travel day, Wednesday practice day, Thursday/Friday a heady mix of early-late and late-early starts before a bolt to the nearest airport, and weekends mulling over my poor play at home.
Very quick positives would include being able to conquer a fear of flying (presently made bearable by a mild/knockout sedative), and too much time on a hotel bed to catch up on a couple of box sets and nonsensical Italian game shows.
I might assume a new nickname.
My fruit and water intake would be upped. A physio would be on hand to knead and cajole me into position for Thursday and I would hope to lose a stone by substituting more fruit for less sausages at breakfast.
There would be the hotel gym to take advantage of where I could enjoy a gentle 15 minutes on the exercise bike before breakfast as a succession of Scandinavians come in and dead-lift ridiculous weights to a soundtrack of grunts and squawks.
Having failed to break into a sweat I would shuffle out quietly, mumbling something along the lines of ‘play well this week’.
Immediate negatives would be an inability to make new friends, which might then lead to lager tops which, in turn, would end up back at sausages. One of my biggest concerns would be how to dress accordingly.
A middle-age paunch, which I imagine to be the slightest ripple, has now become an over-hanging bulge and I am now of an age where food stains are becoming more de rigeur than a rare blip.
My own sense of ‘style’ would have made the perfect bedfellow for golf in the mid 80s but things have got away from me and I am now lost in a world of breathable polos and white belts.
In the depths of early spring and autumn I might pass for something resembling a golfer but in the sultriness of Asia I would likely have to be escorted from the course on a drip after opting for a grey cotton trouser instead of a thin white slack, the outline of my undercrackers just about visible in the right light.
If I were to go down the smart trouser route then this would likely bring the added headache of a small slit at the hem and I would then, very quickly, be out of my comfort zone and this would impact on my game.
Apparel sponsors would get little return on their investment as I would wear the same trousers for every round and, most likely, to travel in.
And to lie on my hotel bed watching Season 5 of The Sopranos.
I would likely have to be escorted from the course on a drip after opting for a grey cotton trouser instead of a thin white slack, the outline of my undercrackers just about visible in the right light. After a few weeks, when comfort levels had gone up a notch or two, I could see myself possibly in a pair of (loose-fitting) baby blue slacks but, even if I was to retain my card for the next decade, red would never be an option given that I am unable to disassociate them with darts superstars Cliff Lazarenko or Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams.
I would take the moral high ground and shun all manner of non-existent offers for a 10-club equipment deal, instead choosing to put into play a lot of clubs with headcovers and some irons that begin with the No 6.
My head would be turned with the promise of something a ‘bit less spinny’ as I would jump from one driver to the next which would then give me the chance to hover round the tour vans and clean up on some free balls and grips for mates.
Hat-wise I would hope to become the Kirk Triplett (pictured) of the European Tour, overlooking the merits of the baseball cap for a pork pie hat. This would be my point of difference on tour.
I wouldn’t expect to be overly inundated by media requests but I would like to think that I would be free with my time. We could talk about my hat, only to be met with a different set of glazed eyes each week as I tail off at the end of every sentence.
Otherwise I would loiter around the European Tour Weekly cameras, hoping to add my inisight into the course set-up – ‘Yeah it looks a great track, you’ll need to be long and straight, the rough is pretty juicy so if we can stay out of that and then hopefully hole a few putts we should be alright’.
Come the end of my rookie season I would hope to be on nodding terms with Dougie Donnelly, have learned not to look too closely at the scrambling stats and finally got to the end of The Sopranos.
And, with only six short years to go, I could begin to turn my attentions and my protruding waistline to the European Senior Tour and a bit of after-dinner speaking.