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  • Hannah

The Unknown.

Does the unknown scare or excite us? Or both?

I went back to Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in December with nerves, anticipation, excitement but to be honest a real sense of the unknown. But also a overwhelming amount of gratitude for even being there. Compared to where I was 9 months previous, my body and mind were undoubtedly in a different place.

It’s not a thrived after golf tournament, but for me on this occasion it certainly was. A chance to test the fixed hip, a chance to see where my competitive golf game was at, and a chance to try and improve my LET status for 2022, what’s not to enjoy about that?

I rocked up on the Sunday afternoon, a few familiar faces, a few I never knew. I think people looked at me and wondered if I was new. I mean who blames them, I hadn't been seen at a LET event since March 2020. But what a feeling to just be there. To walk in to the tournament office and register, to walk onto the putting green to roll some putts it's fair to say I felt a huge overwhelming feeling of a sense of purpose. I guess a real sense of identity. As Hannah, the golfer, was back where she felt she belonged, at a golf tournament.

The morning nerves were somewhat uncontrollable. I struggled to get any form of nutrition into me. I felt a bit uneasy. I felt unsettled. I paced about. I spoke quickly. I kept asking Sean if I was going to be ok. I felt emotional. I could have cried.

I’m not sure if it was the unknown, the unknown of what the ‘return’ would be like. How long would I be nervous? Saying that, I always get nervous. How would my hip be? Would I be able to play that many consecutive rounds? Would my mind stay focused for that many consecutive rounds? Would I play well? Ultimately this didn’t and shouldn’t matter, but I’m a golfer, so of course, it did.

But, I stood on the first tee and felt in control. Like I had never been away. Somewhat at ease. Weird.

When I played my first competitive round on the Tartan Pro Tour in September, it was a very similar story. But back then, expectations. Yeah I had absolutely none. What an amazing place to be that is. You feel free. You care, but you don’t. You give yourself some relief from critical self talk, but you still critisice. You accept bad shots quicker. You give yourself credit for playing the ‘easiest’ shot. You simply stick to the process.

What I've found hard is holding onto that feeling of low expectations. I know this is something I wanted to hold onto as long as I could. I do still have a bit of that, but I must admit I can hear myself getting more and more critical. As I play more rounds, as I practise more my expectations have increased. I have always put too much pressure on myself, i'm my own worst critic. Is that good? No, not at all. Does it help? Absolutely not.

I had missed those holed birdie putts, the bombed drives, the flushed long irons, the spinny wedges. I had missed the pre game nerves, the anxiety, the heart rate increase over challenging shots, the sinking of the heart when the ball doesn’t do what you intended. I missed the sound of the sand in a bunker shot, the sound of rain on the umbrella, the sound of the ball going in the hole. The good, the bad and the ugly. I missed it all.

It wasn’t all about the competing though.

The opportunity to travel. The opportunity to struggle with my lack of Spanish. The opportunity to spend euros. The opportunity to drive on the right hand side of the road. But most importantly seeing friends I hadn’t seen since March 2020. It’s these I guess, the little things, that make what I do so amazing, and to be back doing that, that makes me happy.

I never questioned whether I wanted to get back to competitive golf, but I definitely questioned whether I would get back. Not only did I go through this process to improve my general health and well being, but I hoped that a by product of the last 9 months hard work that it would actually help my golf game too. It’s far too early to tell, but goodness me, it feels like it has.

Maybe all my emotions were a combination of the unknown, the anticipation, but a sense of fulfilment. The relief of being back in that environment that I had missed so much. The whole rehab process was about embracing the unknown. The unknown of how long before I would play again, compete again and ultimately feel comfortable again.

Maybe the unknown is exciting. I don't know the answer for everybody but it certainly scares me and excites me in equal measures.

As 2022 has just come upon us, I guess the unknown is something to look forward to...

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