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Confessions of a professional golfer: “It’s not all glitz and glamour”

In his interview with Sports Gazette, Luke Groves reflects on a difficult year of injuries, the huge leap from amateur to pro, and his passion for boxing.

Not only did Luke Groves start his golf career late at 16, but the reason why he got into the sport was unorthodox as well.

“It was 100% stubbornness. When I first started out, I couldn’t hit the ball and that really got to me, because it was the only sport I wasn’t good at. Cricket, badminton and tennis I picked up really quick but for some reason, I couldn’t hit that stupid white ball,” he laughs.

His dad would often play with his friends and ask him to tag along, which he admittedly was not a fan of in the beginning.

“As much as I hated it at the start, I started getting better and better. So, I kept going back to the driving ranges with my friends, practicing and having fun. Then I saw the results and progress, and it just took over from there,” he added.

credit: @lukegroves

Groves was enjoying his second season of professional golf last year, when a ruptured appendix left him sidelined for five months.

“Before it happened, I felt invincible and that nothing could touch me, so this experience was a big eye opener for me. I still have rehab but everything is on the right track now, and I just started competing again,” he said.

His ultimate target is to get through the European Tour score in September, but still wary of his injury, his more immediate goal is to have at least one win in the Alps Tour.

He explained: “I just need to make sure I’m playing at the right time and take the opportunities as they come. I’m playing loads of events but there are certain events that are life changing, so I need to make sure I peak at the right time.”

“With golf, you can play badly for half a year but if you play well in one tournament it can change your life,” he continued. “For some reason, I seem to play better from July and onwards, I don’t know why or if it’s a mental thing but I need to take advantage of that.”

But golf is not the only sport on his mind. The now 25-year-old has been boxing since he was nine and considers it one of his biggest passions.

“I’ve always loved it. I’m actually fighting a charity match on the 18th of August,” Groves said.

Luke Groves boxing at South Oxhey Amateur Boxing Club in 2004 (credit: @lukegroves)

He does not believe in idols but when talking about life influences, one name did pop up.

“It pains me to say it because I know him really well, but it would be Anthony Joshua,” he laughs.

He’s a childhood friend and I’ve known him through boxing at my dad’s gym [in Watford]. The way he’s built and the way he is with people… He’s definitely an idol of a sportsman.”

The best moment in Groves’ career was winning his debut event, but perhaps it was not the best thing that could happen to him.

“I turned up as an amateur at the Buckinghamshire just hoping to turn pro. My aim was to finish in the money spots because that’s how you lose your amateur status. Next thing I know, I’ve only gone and won the whole tournament!

(credit: @lukegroves)

“I think in a way, it was probably the worst thing that could happen to me, because I thought “oh here we go this is easy,” he said.

Groves quickly realised that golf was anything but easy. In his opinion, it is the toughest sport in the world.

“It’s definitely a more mental thing than physical. What frustrates me with golf is everyone plays different at different times, one day you can be amazing at it but the next day you have no idea what’s going on. It’s so inconsistent,” he explained.

Due to his large social media following, young golfers often message him asking questions about pro golf. The 25-year-old considers it his duty to give them a realistic answer.

“I always mention the travelling, how you share rooms and miss flights. You’re missing cuts, which means you’re not making it to the weekend and you won’t get paid. I think it’s healthy for the younger people starting up to see what it’s like behind the doors.

“If you’re a high amateur and you turn pro, you start at the bottom again. You have to mentally prepare yourself to build your way back up. And golf throws a lot of negatives at you before it throws positives,” he said.

Groves tells the story of how once his flight was cancelled from Milan to Heathrow. He was told he couldn’t fly home before Tuesday morning, but when he asked what he was supposed to do for two days, they told him to sleep in the airport.

“I obviously didn’t listen, and instead flew to Brussels to get on a connecting flight. It took me about 17 hours to get home.

“This is what people don’t see. They only see me lifting the trophy or getting the check, or the fancy Instagram posts, which are great, but don’t tell the whole story,” he said.

feature image credit: @lukegroves

Iman Alaouie
Iman is currently studying for her MA in Sports Journalism and NCTJ diploma at St Mary’s University, London. She spent a year abroad in Paris studying Photojournalism and English, and has a BA in English from the University of Copenhagen. She is multilingual and speaks Arabic, Danish, English and French. Iman was once featured on popular Danish TV Channel 6 in their national search for a ‘football expert’. Making it to the top 3, she shadowed famous pundits and was tasked with live half-time and full-time analyses of the Premier League game between Chelsea and Fulham. This extraordinary experience only cemented her decision to become a sports journalist. She has recently undergone a two-week work placement at Sky Sports News, and has since been offered freelance. She is an avid Arsenal fan and enjoys attending games and live-tweeting during matches.
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