‘But for practice, I would have gone crazy’ – other sports

Arjun Atwal

Arjun Atwal of India
Arjun Atwal of India(Getty Images)



Windermere (a town in Florida), where I reside, went into lockdown two months ago and but for the Isleworth Country Club staying open for practice amid the restrictions, I would have gone crazy.

Thank God for this as the biggest fallout of staying indoors otherwise has been helping out wife Sona with household chores. Simply put, I detest mopping, cleaning or doing the dishes, but there is no escaping this as it has to be done. On a better note, the time I have got to spend with my boys (Krishen, 16 and Shiva, 12) stand out as I have never been home for this long a stretch, a flipside of being a professional golfer. Both are serious basketball players and take delight in challenging me to join their challenging workouts, which I find difficult to cope with. I have had my way by injecting some golf into Shiva’s life and teaching him to drive a golf cart. The outcome, I must admit, has left the young man immensely happy.

The lockdown has made me realise that the things I was good at as a child stand. Travelling across tours for 26 years left me struggling to take time out for the family but with this being a relaxed phase I picked up a ping-pong racquet after almost 20 years and have been beating my wife and sons at it regularly. Probably, it is muscle memory but all the same the feeling’s good.

The family looks forward to the evenings as we often head to the backyard and I don the chef’s hat in the backdrop of a setting sun. This is one job I love away from the golf course. I believe marinating the meats longer than prescribed add to the taste, and while the barbeque heats up other preparations are made. Burgers, steaks and sausages are normally on the menu and I am pleased to inform that my culinary skills have been appreciated.

With a schedule not as regimented as during a regular season, I practice at will. A normal day starts with heading to my trainer’s place at 9.30am. I have some equipment at home, but I prefer to work out under supervision. The gym there is shut but he has created a facility in the garage. After working out for an hour, I hit the range at Isleworth for about three hours. Starting with putting, chipping and pitching, I go all the way up and finish the day with driver shots. I am more of a range person so playing the course is restricted to twice a week at the most with friends.

Strange as it may sound, a key decision I took at the start of the year seemed to coincide with the lockdown. For some time, guilt was building up that I wasn’t devoting enough time to the family and I decided to stop playing on the Asian Tour and focus on the starts I get on the PGA Tour. The rigours of travel had started to tell on the body and it is funny how the situation started to change worldwide from January when the pandemic began to strike.

I’m worried about my parents’ well-being in Delhi as they fall in the high-risk category given their advanced age. With fewer tournaments on my calendar, I am looking at the first opportunity to get them to Windermere or coming to India whenever air travel resumes.

(As told to Robin Bose)

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