This time last year, we were full of excitement for what 2020 would bring. Our plans for the launch of Sounder were taking shape, and like all golfers heading to the first tee, we had a spring in our step and a head full of positive swing thoughts.
Like so many medal scores, however, it wasn’t long before the round that was 2020 started to go seriously off the rails. But we’re thankful that we’ve made it back to the clubhouse, and with the incurable optimism that all golfers are burdened with, we’re convinced that next time everything will be different.
So from all of us here at Sounder HQ, we wanted to share our hopes and dreams for the year to come. Thanks for your support in 2020, we can’t wait to see you all on the course in 2021…
- To appreciate the time we get to spend on the course – a place to re-connect with our physical and mental health, and to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to play the game. Our good friend Gordon Smart wrote a beautiful piece on how golf helped him through a wretched year – read Silence in a Special Place on the Sounder Player’s Journal.
- To remember that golf isn’t just about 18 holes with a card in your hand. We pledge to make more time for a few holes at sunset, for spending an hour on the putting green, or for wandering out to the short game area with nothing more than a wedge and a Spotify playlist for company.
- To embrace foresomes as a format. It’s fast, fun and ferociously competitive. Nothing tests a long-standing friendship or forges a new bond like alternate shot match play, ideally over 36 holes and punctuated with a well-lubricated lunch break.
- To return to Royal North Devon, a magical club where we shot our launch content back in the summer. We can’t wait to play the new par 5 seventh (and to blow a kiss to the old 7th green before it’s finally reclaimed by the Atlantic Ocean).
- To take the long and winding road to Machrihanish, the original venue for our launch shoot back in the spring. The first lockdown put paid to that plan, but the holes laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1879 will still be there when we head north 2021.
- To make the most of the precious daylight while we’re up in Scotland and knock off three rounds in one day, with plenty of time for breakfast, lunch and dinner in between. After 2020, we’ve got a lot of lost golf trips to make up for.
- To bunk off work on a Monday in early June and jump on the train down to Walton Heath to watch the US Open international qualifying rounds. Watch some of the European Tour’s best players play the Old and New Courses in a single day, with no ropes and no entry price – a unique chance to get up close with some of the best ball strikers on the planet.
- To watch high-quality amateur golf on world-class golf courses – accessible, affordable and relatable. 2021 sees the Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa, the Curtis Cup at Conway and the Amateur Championship at Nairn and Nairn Dunbar. Or if you feel like pushing the boat out, the Walker Cup at Seminole in Florida.
- To get the dates and destinations for annual golf tours back in the calendar. Home or abroad, serious golf or pseudo-stag weekend – wherever you’re heading and whoever you’re playing with, it’s time well spent with people you don’t see often enough.
- To wager no more money on Louis Oosthuizen at the Majors. The bookies have had quite enough of our money over the years.
- To take the money that we’re not going to spend on Louis and stick it all on Lee Westwood to win the Open at Royal St George’s.
- To spend less time watching identikit golfers playing identikit golf courses on the PGA Tour, and to invest that time in the growing list of websites and podcasts who represent a more interesting take on the game. Our friends at McKellar, State of the Game and Cookie Jar Golf make for much better company than Mark Roe and the gang on Sky Sports.
- To waste less time on golf Twitter, and read some of the writers who capture the soul of the game better than anyone. Dan Jenkins, Tom Callahan and Bernard Darwin make for a pretty good place to start.
- To read (or re-read) The Spirit of St Andrews by Alister Mackenzie. Ideally en route to a tee-time at the Old Course.
- To play more golf with fewer clubs. A half-set in a pencil bag isn’t just easier on your back and better for your health – by forcing you to choose between the hard 9 or the knock-down 7 iron, it reminds you that the game is supposed to be an art as much as a science.
- To play more pitch and putt. With no dress code, no range finder, no need to book a tee-time and nothing more than two clubs and a four-pack, it’s golf in it’s purist form.
- To find a field and create a makeshift par-3 course for the day. All the fun of pitch and putt (see 16), with the added fun of playing architect and greenkeeper too.
- To go back to the place where you first learned to play the game. For us, that’s the municipal courses in Richmond Park, a converted dairy farm in mid Devon, Allerton Manor Golf Cup in Liverpool, Flackwell Heath in Bucks… places you won’t find in any of the top 100 lists, but places where the true soul of golf resides.
- To introduce someone new to golf. Whether it’s your partner, your oldest mate, your niece or your neighbour – seeing the game through the eyes of a newbie reminds us of the simple joy that comes from hitting a small ball with a big stick.
- To reconcile ourselves to the potential downside of every shot before pulling the trigger. It’s the only way that you can properly commit to hitting the shot you want to hit – something that we like to call the power of negative thinking. We think it may just be the secret to unlocking your best golf.
- To stage the first Sounder Classic, where we bring the Sounder community together for a golf event that celebrates everything we love about the game. See you there.