I’m not sure where this article is going, I’m not sure if it’s a confession or simply a mechanism by which I can off load the heavy burden of Joshua’s journey from my shoulders.
Here’s the problem, here’s the confession:
My happiness is integrally linked to Joshua’s success.
I do not want to feel this way and I guess I have come to the realisation that this is not healthy. The problem with this of course is that the relationship you have with your son could become toxic; you could lose the bond or the trust that you have built between you over so many years, and of course, it goes without saying, that your own health will suffer as a result. You also run the risk of alienating yourself from other members of your immediate family.
I am happy when he plays well, something quite obviously all parents feel. I am very much more on the miserable side when he doesn’t. Like any parent does, you want the best for your child, I want Joshua to be successful, I want him to be happy, I want him to be stable, I want him to embrace this future.
When he doesn’t score well in a tournament, I am weighed down by the consequences of that. The crazy thing is when I’m able to look from the outside in, I know that we are on a journey and that an individual round of golf does not define golfer or the person who he becomes, it is merely part of the most necessary of processes. But it’s the heart that creates the emotions that sometimes overwhelm me. And how do I remain fully objective as we continue down this road?
It is dangerous to react in the heat of the moment and on a positive note I am happy to say that I am able to outwardly control what I say despite the irrational nature of some of my thoughts.
I read a lot, I do plenty of research, I take note of so many other players around the world that it’s difficult not to relate what Joshua does or doesn’t do to other people:
“Well, such and such is doing this or so and so is doing that, why aren’t you doing that?” would be a typical irrational thought that I have on the back of poor performance.
“Surely poor performance relates to poor preparation or a lack of practice or a lack of dedication,” my brain continues to think.
Of course, in a state of equilibrium when I’m not reacting to a round of golf or tournament, I know full well that what I’m thinking is wholly ridiculous. I have to keep reminding myself that Joshua is an individual, he is where he is today because of who he is, and his autistic traits and ADHD, fuel the person and the athlete that he has become. If we start doing things because somebody else is doing it, we are going down a one-way dead-end street, and I know that we must embrace his personality, we must embrace the fact that he takes ownership of the way he wants to do things. (This doesn’t mean that he can’t be coached by the way.)
I get deeply affected by the reaction from others, especially when they haven’t taken the time to truly get to know him.
In the aftermath of the most recent performance on The European Challenge Tour, at The British Challenge at The Belfry, there are questions to answer and plans and strategies to create. Covid has certainly had an impact on his career, setting his progress back, likely by eighteen months to two years, and it won’t be until 2022 that his schedule will get back to normal. What this current situation has done, is create a pressure to perform, a pressure to win at all costs environment in order to create more playing opportunities throughout 2021. We’ve always seen his rise up through the rankings as a gradual process, based on a run of events over the course of the season, rather than a win in a tournament or a qualifying event. So, when the opportunities are limited, the pressure is high, and the failure hurts even more.
So, here’s the cure for me. Joshua is 23, still very young in the world of professional golf. He IS immensely talented, and we know that he performs best when he plays a full season of events. If we continue to create the environment where he is able to perform and showcase his talents, then we can all trust in the process more, simply because the process is clearer. When that environment is created, I trust him to perform. I’m longing for next season, I don’t want to rush it, or force the issue now, because that creates the conflict. He will succeed despite the roadblocks, brick walls and mountains in his path.
“My happiness is integrally linked to my son’s success.” I love both of my son’s so much and I want nothing but the best for each of them. No doubt all parents feel that way too. I need to stay objective, I need to trust the process, and most importantly I need to trust Joshua to make the correct decisions and do the right things based on who he is.
Gavin Grenville-Wood is an award-winning Junior Golf Coach with over 25 years in the industry, specialising now in educating Golf Coaches and Parents all over the world. He is Dad to Professional Golfer, Joshua (23) and Sports Science student Ethan (20).