Players often talk about the mental side of the game, but they are not the only ones who can be affected by the psychological stressors of golf.
Drought, tightening budgets and the want to please club members and guests can take a toll on all aspects of a club, but few more so than greenkeepers.
At the 2019 Emirates Australian Open, The Australian Golf Club’s superintendent, Phil Beal, took the initiative to set time aside for his team on Friday to take their concentration away from the health of the course and look within.
Joining forces with Beyond Blue, the team came together to reflect and check in with their mental wellbeing.
“Today I knew I had a few guys that I could actually capture and then we advertised it to a few more golf courses and it worked out really well,” Beal said after a talk from Beyond Blue ambassador Chris Gotham.
“Our association got a hold of Chris for me and invited him here and then the club sponsored some t-shirts and what have you here now, which is fantastic.
“I’d hope that after today, people would go away and talk to each other about their struggles and actually open up. I think it will work perfectly in all sorts of areas.”
Following 10 years at The Australian, Beal is a driving force behind a push from the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association to support its delegates in difficult times.
“There’s not a lot you can do about a drought, but people still come under pressure on golf courses to produce a surface for people to play on and sometimes it becomes near enough impossible,” he said.
“Then the pressure starts and anxiety kicks in and it may change into something that’s more serious.”
Having experienced times of depression himself, and acknowledging the effect recent times may have had on his team and the 28 greenkeepers that had volunteered for the event, Beal thought the Australian Open was the perfect opportunity to offer a little extra support.
“I’ve had depression and I’ve actually gone and sorted myself out and it feels as though there’s still a stigma to it and people still don’t want to talk about it.
“[At the Association] we partake in conferences and I’ve spoken about this at before. We set up Beyond Blue at the conferences and with 300 delegates we may get 20 people and I take that as a sign that people are still not able to really open up about it.
“But I know that since I’ve been talking to people about it a lot of people have come to me and spoken to me about their problems.”