On face value professional golfers live the dream, travelling the world playing the game they love.
But Australian star Lindsey Wright has spoken out about the dark side to tour life, insisting her battle with depression has changed her outlook on the game.
In September, 2011, the New South Welshman quit golf to deal with her depression, the debillitating illness crippling her game.
Having returned to the fairways in January last year, the 33-year-old has learned not to let the grind of touring life consume her. As she so aptly puts its, she’s ‘‘Lindsey the person first, Lindsey the golfer second’’.
‘‘The depression factor comes with the continuous travel, living in hotel rooms by yourself and sitting at bars. It’s that kind of monotonous ... it’s very lonely,’’ Wright told The Canberra Times.
‘‘The biggest thing is surrounding myself with good people, the right people, positive people.
‘‘Not coming home to see your family or friends and having a beer, that’s when it gets you mentally.
‘‘If anything it’s helped me [in] the whole [depression] process, because you learn a lot about how your brain and thought processes work and that’s helped me on the course with my attitude.’’
Wright is currently ranked world no. 76, the third highest-ranked Australian behind Karrie Webb (12) and Katherine Hull (66).
Webb will enter next week’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra high on confidence after her ANZ Ladies Masters win, and on a course Wright believes suits Webb perfectly.
But Wright insists she doesn’t feel the pressure of an expectant Australian public waiting for someone to help seven-time major champion Webb fly the flag.
‘‘Not really, I don’t think about it, I just do what I do and it speaks for itself,’’ Wright said.
‘‘Regardless of what happens, Karrie’s always going to be a legend. Some people look at it as ‘I want to be no.1’, but for me I just want to enjoy every day.
‘‘At the moment I’m enjoying my golf, and I can maintain that and be happy with my golf, that’s good enough for me.’’
She said young Australian hopefuls like Stacey Keating, who won twice on last year’s European Tour, could learn from avoiding becoming completely ensconced in golf.
‘‘The stress of high-level sport, a lot of athletes do have it [depression] because of the stress,’’ Wright said.
‘‘A lot of young people, and I’ve fallen victim to it to, you get out on tour and become so obsessed with getting the results and rankings, you forget ‘oh shit, I’ve got a life as well’.
‘‘For me I’ll play three or four [events], have a week off and try and do something fun like go to a show in New York, or the beer festival in Germany.
‘‘I take medication, it’s something I have to monitor and I’ve been told it’s more than likely it will come back, I just have to be conscious of that.’’
Wright said the impressive Australian Open field, which features nine of the world’s top 20 players, means the country has never been better placed to promote women’s golf.
‘‘It helped when I was starting out in the 90s when I went down and watched the Aussie Open at Yarra to watch the great players, and this field is much better,’’ Wright said.
‘‘If they don’t capitalise on it they’re mad, the thing is every player on tour wants to play because there are so few events [on the USLPGA tour].’’