As I sat down with promising local golfer Joe Swaine to discuss his passion for the sport and where he hopes it will take him, he instantly offered an insight in to his own mindset. He told me, “People tend to question how much golf I play. But of course I play a lot, because I haven’t reached where I want to be yet. Until I’m there, I can’t say I’ve been successful…”
This stood out to me, as Joe has already found personal victories as a member at the Ferndown Golf Club as well as team success with the Bournemouth University golf team. However, it’s this driving passion that defines him as a golfer and a man as I soon found out…
WHEN DO YOU FIRST REMEMBER FALLING IN LOVE WITH GOLF?
I’ve been playing golf since I was 13, so about eight years ago. And that was when I joined Highcliffe Golf Club. It was a sort of a transitional period for me, as I played football as a youngster before I found a different passion in golf. But it was The Masters that really solidified my love. I remember staying up late to watch the pros and winning a bet with my granddad. As a kid I used to go to Wentworth to watch the BMW PGA Championships, where I’d go the driving range and collect the used practice balls, which I’d play with the next day and pretend I was playing in the tournament.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION AS A GOLFER?
Obviously, Tiger Woods is up there but I’ve always loved Rickie Fowler. I even had my photo taken with him when I was younger. He always had a nice, friendly demeanour about him and always looked cool on the course. As a kid, I bought one of his hats which I would wear every day. More recently, I’d call myself a big fan of Jordan Spieth.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AS A GOLFER SO FAR?
I would say my biggest achievement was the year of 2018 as a whole. I was rushed into hospital to have my appendix out. But immediately after that, I was doing everything I could to get back on the course. Following the operation, the first big event I played was the Dorset County Championship at Lyme Regis, where I won the under-21s trophy after the first two rounds. That year, I was also playing for the first team for Bournemouth University, where we got to the semifinals of the national cup.
The biggest thing that happened that year for me however was playing in the Midlands Trophy at Little Aston. All I was hoping for was to make the cut. We played the first day in horrendous conditions; on the second day I was playing with two guys with much better handicaps. But after a great round I found myself leading the tournament! Unfortunately, I finished in second, but it landed me my scratch handicap and a world amateur ranking. I was chuffed!
TALK ME THROUGH A LOW POINT AND HOW YOU RECOVERED FROM IT…
Golf is a sport where you have to stay strong. If you’re not mentally strong, then you won’t be able to succeed. For me personally, I find it teaches you how to deal with adversity and let it motivate you. That being said, there have been times where I’ve struggled. For instance, I broke my hand in a football-related accident back in May. It was frustrating as it was just before my first chance at competing in qualifying for The Open, but I viewed it as a life lesson. This year, while overcoming some personal issues outside of golf I learnt how important it was to have no distractions. You have to be happy outside of golf to be happy in golf.
IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU SHOULD SAY THAT; I ONCE READ A QUOTE BY HALE IRWIN, WHO SAID, “Golf is the loneliest sport. You’re completely alone with every conceivable opportunity to defeat yourself.” HOW TRUE DO YOU FIND THIS?
That’s the thing with golf — it can bring such great personal success if you’re successful. But it means that all the eyes are on you. No one else is going to play the shot for you. The golf course can be a very lonely place.
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WHEN YOU’RE OUT THERE ALONE?
What I try and do a lot is to go and play by myself. Whenever I’m free, I’ll go and play some holes with my headphones in, so that I’m just used to being out there alone. But it’s different when you’re under the concentrated pressure of a competition and the only way to prepare for that is failing. There’s been times where I’ve thrown myself off purely through nerves. But I’m learning to enjoy the opportunities I’m getting. The English Amateur tournament I played in this year is a great example of that.
WHAT’S THE END GOAL AS A GOLFER? WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE SPORT TAKE YOU?
My main goal, obviously, is to become a professional golfer on the PGA and European Tours. It’s sometimes said as a joke or a passing comment but ultimately one day I want to be World Number One. You often need some lucky breaks in golf, but you never know how far you can push yourself. At the moment, I have my sights set on the English Amateur tournament being hosted at the Ferndown golf course in 2023. It’s a great opportunity to do what I love in front of the people that have always supported me.
WHAT’S THE NEXT CHALLENGE TO GET THERE? WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
In the near future, I’m looking ahead to some warm weather training in Turkey with Bournemouth University. That will be great preparation for the R&A Series event in Portugal in February, which will be a good experience. After that, it’s go time as we move into the golf season. I will be focusing on the Open qualifying, English Amateur tournament and the Dorset County Championships.