Life is full of lists isn’t it? And usually those lists consist of a list of things to do that you never got round to doing because there were so many other listed things that needed doing on the ruddy list.
Of course, away from the humdrum banalities of everyday existence, there are those smug, hark-at-me, keeping up with the Joneses lists that you see in books and magazines and Sunday newspaper supplements; you know, the 100 places you MUST visit before you die or the 1000 Recipes you MUST cook before you die or the 20 doctors you MUST urgently seek before you die after stupidly undercooking the chicken in that recipe book that implored you to cook that thing before you died in the first bloomin’ instance?
In the world of golf, meanwhile, there are a raft of things on an exhaustive list that can be checked off, from having a successful amateur career, to turning pro, establishing some kind of foothold in the paid ranks and perhaps even winning a title?
Of course, not every golfer will tick all those things off their list. There have been plenty of golfers who excelled in the amateur game and were lauded as the next big thing on the professional stage only to quietly drift out of the picture.
Equally, there have been many who had little pedigree in the amateur scene yet, through a combination of factors ranging from sheer hard work to cosmic alignment, managed to make the absolute most of their abilities and thrive as a touring golfer. The career trajectory of Paul Lawrie, for instance, is a shimmering example of that. There’s no one size fits all approach to this very individual pursuit of fickle fortunes.
It’s 10 years now since Lawrie’s protégé, David Law, showed us all what he was capable of when he won both the Scottish boys’ and men’s amateur titles in 2009. And as usual, we were quick to tag him with that aforementioned next big thing label. At times, mind you, it’s not really a label, more a millstone … and there are any number of golfers who still have a neck strain from lumping it around with them.
In the clamour to find our next Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie or Catriona Matthew, you often here pundits, analysts and critics asking the agitated question: ‘where is Scotland’s next major champion coming from?’
In many ways, it’s a ludicrous starting point for any analysis and one not grounded in reason or reality. Getting a few solid touring professionals, on the other hand, is a more reasonable request in a global game of quite daunting strength in depth. Law, with his breakthrough win in the Vic Open on Sunday, has hammered down those solid foundations and can hopefully kick on to bigger and better things. In this game, though, the only certainty is the uncertainty.
READ MORE: Law revels in the high life as tour champion
Law had never finished higher than 66th on the Challenge Tour rankings in his previous four full seasons on the circuit until he won in his 100th event in Aviemore last June and earned promotion in 14th place on the final money list.
Law had great support from Scottish Golf in his amateur days while the inspiring and influential backing from Lawrie was, and continues to be, a terrific source of assistance. Marry all that to his natural talent and you would have said Law was a stick on to succeed but the fact that it has taken him nearly eight years as a pro to really begin to flourish shows just how unpredictable the pro game can be.
Despite the personal trauma of losing his baby boy, Law’s drive and discipline has not wavered. His mental fortitude, meanwhile, was in evidence on Sunday when he pulled out all the stops on the last, seized the moment and made the eagle he needed to win.
You can talk and argue about development programmes here or pathway processes there but there is no support system which can instil those type of attributes. They can only be nurtured from within.
As the great Bobby Jones said: “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course… the space between your ears.”
In this game of fine margins, Law drew on that certain something that many other golfers simply don’t have. And, at the top level, that makes a huge difference.