He could be the most well-travelled golfer Australia has ever produced. A 14-time winner as a professional, as he prepares for this week’s Maybank Championship in Malaysia, Queenslander Scott Hend reveals the secrets to surviving life as a global golfer.
This week I am in Malaysia. Last week it was a week off in Bangkok having played the week before in Qatar. The weeks before that were Oman, Bangkok, Perth, Melbourne and Saudi Arabia. After Malaysia I’m off to India before I finally head home to the family in Florida. Last year I played 31 events in 27 different countries and I guess in that regard you could classify me as a selfish person.
I don’t play golf to make money, I play golf because I love to play golf. I like to play golf, I want to play golf and I want to play in tournaments. I’m very self-driven in that regard. The way I see it is that if I don’t go away then I can’t make money for my family and if I don’t go away I can’t have the self-gratification of trying to win a golf tournament.
With a wife and two kids there’s no doubt I’ve become a little less selfish over the years. You feel that gravitational pull. You want to go home, you want to see your kids, you want to drive your car and just hang out.
I’m fortunate to be in the position where I’ve made some money over the years so when the twins, Aston and McLaren, are not in school over summer I can fly them and my wife Leanne out to me. They spend six weeks with me in Europe and get to see the world. At Christmas time we’ll have a holiday in Asia and then pop down to Australia for a couple of weeks, so I get to spend time with them in that way.
It can be a lonely existence, not only just for you but also your partner. If they can’t handle that, it’s going to be very difficult for you. I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a very strong-minded, strong-willed wife in Leanne. She’s a lawyer by her trade and does an incredible job with the kids. If you’ve got a partner that can’t handle being by herself or looking after the kids, then this job’s not for you.
If you’re a nervous flyer, this job also isn’t for you. That’s all we seem to do. Every Sunday night or Monday we’re on a flight to somewhere and that’s just part of the way golf has evolved. We no longer play four events in our home state four weeks in a row; it just doesn’t happen.
Everywhere you travel to is a different experience. Some are good and, to be honest with you, none of them are ever really that bad. I’ve been fortunate enough to never fear for my safety or anything like that but it can be a little concerning when you go to an airport such as Delhi and want to change your flight. The airline tells you that you have to go to the travel desk to change it but you are not allowed into the airport unless you have a booking. Things like giving your passport to people to take inside the airport while you wait outside with no passport and no way to get in to get it, that can be a little nerve wracking. But they’re just the bits and pieces you go through when you’re travelling.
One travel experience that stands out was a flight from Tahiti to New Caledonia when we were playing on the South Pacific tour back in the late 1990s. The weather was so bad that we had three attempts to land and turned back around. The plane was full of golfers and we were all saying, ‘don’t try again, don’t try again.’ Then we found out that the radar was out at the airport so the pilot was trying to land by coming in through the hills. I always remember that one.
The secret to surviving this lifestyle is resilience. I’ve got a little bit of amnesia too which doesn’t hurt.
It’s funny, I was watching the TV the other day and they were talking about how some golfers are using psychology and their short-term memory to help them forget bad shots. The best golfers in the world all do that naturally; it’s not something that has to be taught. Luckily enough I don’t scar from the bad stuff that’s happened. I prefer to remember the good stuff.
If I couldn’t play golf then I don’t know what I’d do. Even when I’m home back in Brisbane, I love going out and playing with my brother-in-law, my dad and a couple of mates. This sport has enabled me to travel the world. It’s enabled me to meet a lot of great friends. It’s enabled me to see what’s bad in the world and also what’s good. Hopefully I can pass that on to my kids if they ever want some information when they travel.
I’m very lucky. I’ve been able to see a lot of things that if I had a job in Australia I’d never have seen otherwise. If I was back home working in Australia would I have gone and visited the Taj Mahal? Definitely not. That’s not something I’d personally do but because I was there playing golf and had a couple of days off I went and did it. If you’re the sort of person who wants to explore the city you’re playing in that week, you absolutely can. I don’t actively seek out to go and do those things but if a tournament such as Perth says we’re going to Rottnest Island on Tuesday afternoon to go and see the quokkas, then I’ll go and see the quokkas.
There have been plenty of 14-hour flights where I won’t even turn the TV on. I just put my headphones in, get my iPod out and just let it play. Sometimes I’ve got a playlist that I might like to listen to, other times I’ll just press shuffle and go through 9.5 hours of music and then start again. I’ve got everything on there from Dean Martin through to Tiesto, even Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Everything except heavy metal. I’m not a heavy metal person.
With all the travelling I’ve done I think I’ve become more patient with certain types of people. When I was starting out, I hardly had enough patience for myself and then you travel and you realise that in general, as a race, we are very basic people. We can be very stupid and airports bring the stupidity out in everybody. That’s just the way it is.
If you think that sounds like a silly statement then you need to travel more. Stand in security lines and watch what people do. Common sense is pretty rare these days. You see people lining up in the priority line who if they just looked at their ticket would know they’re not supposed to be in that line. Then you’ve got the security checks; take your laptop out, take everything out of your pockets. Yet you’ll see a bloke walk through with $7 in change in his pockets and forget to take it out.
What I have noticed in my travels with the advent of smart phones is that it is all immediate gratification. Everyone expects everything in life to happen straight away. That’s something I’ve really noticed over the years.
In terms of managing my body, massage is key. I won’t say I don’t drink but not drinking excessively all the time is a good idea, too. I get a lot of massages to try and keep loose and stretch. For the young golfer coming up, I’d advise them not to become a range rat. Don’t be the guy that hits a billion balls on the range.
Times are changing. You don’t have to have a long career to make money. Guys can be out there for five years, make $20 million and retire but I’m the guy who likes to play golf. I’d like to play golf until I’m 70. I’d like to play the seniors tour, any tour I possibly can for as long as I can.
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