Birmingham, 10am, a warm and sunny day in early September 2018.
To play Golf at Edgbaston and not embarrass myself.
I have never played golf before.
As some readers may already be aware, Greens were fortunate enough to be invited to No5 Chambers’ Golf Day last year. It was a fantastic event, well attended and well enjoyed by all. The only issue was that it was well attended by Birmingham’s finest legal talent who coincidentally are also Birmingham’s finest Golfers.
With hindsight I cannot help but draw parallels between attending this fantastic event with being interviewed for my Training Contract and the subsequent first few months following; you know about the date for a few weeks in advance and prepare as best you can, but you never really feel quite ready. You turn up to a big fancy venue. You park your car, check your tie is straight and get out trying to stay calm (no-one likes a sweaty hand-shake). You toddle into the building, hoping to see a friendly face. “Am I in the right place?” “Yes sir, (the receptionist says), just through there, they’re waiting for you”. Great.
My internal movie monologue starts running ‘and so it begins’, no, look at the grandeur of the building you’re in, come on, think of something more enigmatic, ‘once more unto the breach dear friends’, that’s better, now let’s get going. Game face.
I meet the rest of my team for the day, we prepare to do battle. As we’re stood there waiting for our time to begin, I watch player after player strike the ball with that delightful metal ‘clink’, sending that duly diligent ball thundering down the fairway with ease and elegance. It’s nothing to them, just something they’ve done for years, part of the daily routine. Just as easy as getting the ball rolling at Court, meeting the client, opening arguments or being comforted knowing they know the Judge and have done this all before.
Up we step. Most experienced golfer first. Impressive Senior Solicitor (and my supervisor at the time) to tee off. Decent drive but a slight miss-hit. Ok, pressure’s off a little. Up next, team captain and our best player. He usually drills them, slight miss-hit. Wow, pressure still off. Ok, up I go. There’s at least 15 or so barristers and solicitors behind me, watching me, assessing me, judging me. This is it, interview situation. Sink or swim. Make or break. Training Contract or back to the drawing board…miss-hit. But… not as bad as anticipated, on the fairway, definitely playable, and heck, I hit it! I could see a clear way forwards and knew what I would need to do. First seat of the Training Contract. I stumbled, I struggled but I made progress. I had team members around me who helped me when I needed it and made the experience enjoyable.
Golf is hard. It’s unnatural and strange and a little scary. But, everyone starts off in the same place and those around you have been where you are now. Just keep taking your shots and over time, it’ll be second nature and someone will one day, hopefully, think that you’re the one making it look easy. It’s funny now looking back, even just a few months, how translatable this is to my first three seats in my Training Contract. It’s hard for everyone at the start, just keep swinging and enjoy the moment.
N.B – if anyone knows a good golf coach, I’m looking for lessons!