I’ve not been riding a bike for that long really. Bought my first bike, a Claud Butler MTB, in 2005 a year after we’d moved up here. Only started cycling on the road in 2007. Before that I was a golfer.
I grew up in a wee village called Scone just outside of Perth in a golfing family. My dad John loved his golf, a past captain of the King James VI club in Perth, JY as he was known to his friends was a pretty decent player. Playing off of 3 he would regularly be in about the prizes. As kids, my brother Niall and I would always be down at the club with him. My mum subscribed to the old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and played a bit too. Happy times.
As we grew up Niall and I turned into decent players. I got down to 5 handicap at 17. I was Perth Boys Champion in 1986 and Handicap Club Champion in 1991. Niall was by far the better player though, indeed golf was to become his profession. He turned pro in 1992, the year after he’d won the Scratch Club Championship by 20 shots! His first round of 7 under par 63 is still a club record to this day.
My daughter Rebecca was born in 1992, Andy following her a few years later in 1995, and for a few years golf took a back seat. However, by 1999 the urge to compete was back and with Niall now living & working out in Portugal I enlisted the services of Adam Hunter as coach. Adam was coaching a few Scottish guys at the time, including Paul Lawrie who would go on to win the Open at Carnoustie that year. I can still remember sitting in tears watching Paul stiff a 4 iron at 18 in the playoff to win. Amazing!
Adam helped me to re-build my swing and for 3 or 4 years I enjoyed a lot of success on the golf course. The game came easy for a while, the highlight being a 2 under par 68 in the club championship in 2002. Felt like I was floating round the course that day.
But golf was always a stressful hobby for me. I invested a huge amount of time in practising, if I’m going to do something I want to do it well. A bad shot on 18 could ruin a round and leave me in a bad mood all day. I didn’t need that in my life anymore. Running a business is stressful enough!
We moved up here in 2004 and I joined the local club. I kept on playing for a couple of seasons, the highlight being a 4 under 66 at Kings Links, but the passion was going. Once I started getting out to Kirkhill and Pitfichie on the MTB, I began to see another sport that I could enjoy and that might give me more chance to relax.
Golf was many things for me, but never relaxing. I was also never able to just be me. I was either John’s son or Niall’s brother. On the bike, and with my club mates, I’m just Al or Ali, or big man, or whatever. I kinda like that.
I gave up my membership in 2006. I still play now & again, the odd business event, or with Niall to chat about the business, or my favourite, a game with Andy. But that’s it and I’m happy with that. Me & golf are finally at peace with one another.