I am back in Australia – not quite been here a week and in some ways it feels like I have never left.
Except for the fact I am now the CEO of a non-profit and am busy planning our official launch on the 28th November at Pymble Golf Club - if anyone is in Sydney and would like an invitation please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelling home from India, I had horrendous flight connections, which admittedly were my own doing, as I am on a budget and have put all my money into Fairways sponsorships instead of good flights...
After quite a bit of hassle at Kolkata airport with excess baggage charges, I had to take eight pairs of shoes as carry on luggage. I then went through customs and looked for a water station to fill my bottle. A young girl came up and stood beside me staring. I said, "Hello" and she followed me. She vanished for a minute and by the time I was settled and was going to watch a movie (no internet in Kolkata), she popped up beside me with another girl.
They asked me where I was from and we got chatting about why I was in India and about golf. It turns out the youngest was off to play a junior golf tournament in Delhi. They had just arrived from South Africa where she had competed in a karate tournament winning gold, silver and bronze medals. And now she was off to golf!
I found out she was part of the junior program Indrajit Bhalotia runs (small world!), so we took a photo to send to him. The girls' father came over not long afterward and we had a chat about golf and Indrajit. He gave me his business card and told me to contact him for a round when I was back in India next year.
From Kolkata, I had a ten hour layover at Mumbai (yes I flew backwards on the first leg!) before flying on to Singapore. Not ideal but lucky I can sleep and work anywhere. I seem to brainstorm well at night and was flinging ideas at Jeremy (my COO) from the transit lounge at 3 AM (it was 8:30 AM in Australia).
At least in Mumbai I had internet and was connected. I do take it for granted that I can get connected at any airport so when I arrive somewhere and cannot get online (I'm looking at you Kolkata!), I am at a bit of a loss for not being able to work.
Finally, I landed in Sydney. Door-to-door it would have been around 45 hours!
My sister, Amber, and my mother picked me up. Amber got out of the car saying, “That was nice what Old Mate wrote.” I had no idea who Old Mate was, and told her so. “You know, the coo.” I still didn’t get it until she said, “Your business partner guy.”
Hmmm, okay that's Jeremy. I do believe we had a conversation about letting me read what he planned to write about me. Instead he waited until I was airborne and posted his blog when I had no say in the matter. Not that I was planning on changing anything, but I would have liked to see it first. (Edit: Never going to happen, Tiff. :) )
Anyway, mum and Amber both said he wrote some nice things, and they laughed about him saying I talk a lot. I do. I know that, and I am ok with it.
We headed South and after a few more hours of running around I was finally at my mum's, where I would be staying until Amber’s wedding the following week. This is my office while I'm here:
My first item was to sort my phone and once I was connected, I needed to sort a car for the next three months. As luck would have it, my friend had recently lost her licence, so her car was sitting around for the next three months doing nothing. We negotiated a price and I had wheels!
Next was to find a job.
I needed something part time and a little flexible, as I have media accreditation again for the Emirates Australian Open, need the week of the event off. I had emailed a couple of golf courses while I was still in Canada and phoned them first while I looked online for casual work.
I also left a message for a golf friend, Mark who works at Jack Newton Junior Golf (JNJG), and when he phoned back I updated him on my job search. He asked if I was in front of a computer and directed me to the community golf coach program within the Sporting Schools government initiative. I told him I would complete all the courses by that evening. Well, he may have challenged me and I love a challenge!
I headed off for dinner to catch up with some extended family I haven’t seen in 9 months, but at 8 PM tapped my watch, as I had a couple of courses to complete.
Just before midnight, I sent a tweet to Mark:
The following day I had an extended conversation with Luke Grinham, the Area Manager of JNJG from Wollongong down to Eden. They had work and needed coaches to help with golf in schools. I could start immediately as I had no commitments and am happy to travel.
I want to ensure I am earning enough money to keep paying the bills while I build Fairways. I may not be able to help a highly skilled junior player embark on a tour journey but I can certainly teach the fundamentals of golf, show how fun it is and share my passion with everyone I teach.
By Friday, I had completed my working with children check and I was good to go. I emailed Luke to let him know. He was quite impressed I had everything done and was ready to work after only three days in the country. He already had a school for me to attend and I start this Friday.
Unbelievable - I have got a job teaching golf in schools! It is simply perfect.
I have spent the last couple of days planning Fairways' official launch and fundraising auction. I have been contacting golf resorts for auction lots to add to our major item, a St. Andrews Open Championship pin flag, signed by Tom Watson, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and John Daly. It was very kindly donated by Gordon Moir, at St Andrews.
The money we raise will enable us to help more children. All over the world.
If you can help us, please become a Fairways sponsor.
We are also planning to sponsor some disadvantaged juniors in Australia, and have numerous meetings already arranged to explore how we can help more children get a fairway under their feet.
Then again, I haven’t even mentioned Bolivia, which is where I'll be in the new year, but that is another story altogether...