Ashes will interrupt handicap chase
Test cricketer Ryan Harris has no misconceptions whatsoever about the importance to all Australian sporting fans of the upcoming Ashes Tour.
That is why the veteran fast bowler has been treating his body like a temple since he helped Australia win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India at the SCG in early January. And it is also the reason he will not be taking his beloved golf clubs to England for the Ashes Tour, which kicks off in July.
“It would be great to take the clubs – I’d love to play some of these brilliant English courses, and maybe even some in Scotland,” said the confessed golfing tragic.
“But apart from the fact we don’t get a lot of free days, my mind will be totally focused on cricket. Nothing in our game is more important than an Ashes Tour to England.
“So, unfortunately, the golf clubs will be staying home.”
Rest assured though that the goal of Ryan Harris to get his handicap – currently 13 at Brisbane Golf Club – back down to eight and even lower, will be on in earnest when he returns from England. And in the not-too-distant future, when the lionhearted bowler eventually calls time on his late-blooming career, golf will become a major priority.
“I will be a first-time dad soon so I can’t be too selfish, but if time was not an issue I would gladly play golf three days a week – even more,” he confessed.
“I just love the test of character that golf presents. It seems to throw up a new challenge every time I step on the course and I can’t get enough of that.”
Harris started playing golf about the same time he was introduced to cricket, as a nine-year-old in his home town of Adelaide. His dad was a golfer and Ryan conceded he often ‘tagged along’ to the nine-hole Penfield course in the northern suburb of Salisbury.
When he was 17, and old enough to drive a car, he joined the club and his first handicap was 19. But when cricket became a priority, and then a profession, golf took a back seat.
Now living in Brisbane after signing with the Queensland Bulls in 2008 Harris has enjoyed the opportunity to play more and is a regular in the competitions at BGC on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and corporate days and social outings at Brookwater.
“At the moment I’m full-on training for the trip to England, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays I train earlier than normal so I can get to golf,” he said.
“And I’m enjoying playing at Brisbane. The course is in brilliant condition and the recently-installed Champion greens roll beautifully. But my game still needs fine tuning and teaching pro Reece McRae is helping get my game in shape.”
Although Harris concedes the tight schedule of the Ashes Tour will thwart golf competitions, he says the competition among the players is very strong.
“Most of the guys like a game, but Glenn Maxwell (7 handicap), David Warner (11) and Aaron Finch (10) are the guns,” he said.
“And although Shane Watson doesn’t play these days, apparently he once played off two.” – TONY DURKIN
BEST ROUND: 74 at Redcliffe two years ago
LOWEST HANDICAP: I was off 8 at Brisbane Golf until recently. At the moment I’m on 13, so there is some work to be done
HANDICAP GOAL: Back to 8, then keep going. Four of five would be nice
GOLFING GOAL: When time permits – probably after I have retired – I’d like to play three times a week, maybe more
FAVOURITE CLUB: Seven iron
LEAST FAVOURITE: Sand wedge
FAVOURITE COURSE: My home course, Brisbane Golf Club, is in excellent condition at the moment and a pleasure to play. And although it’s a real challenge, I like Brookwater
DREAM COURSE TO PLAY: Any of the PGA courses in the US. Torey Pines looks as though it would be a test
HOLE IN ONE: No, but I won a pin at Brisbane recently with a shot 60cm from the hole
PIN-UP GOLFER: Tiger Woods has been a long-time favourite, and also Adam Scott
DREAM FOURSOME: Tiger, Adam and Bubba Watson. I think Bubba would be a lot of fun on the course