Friday, 2 July 2010

Golf's No Handicap for Hockey Stars


It is a well-known fact that many international sports stars enjoy a round of golf from time to time for purposes of relaxation, escapism and team-bonding, but five members of Team GB’s hockey squad are pretty nifty at their second-claim sporting pastime, writes Nicola Bamford.

Top of the pile when it comes to showing off their driving and putting skills is 29-year-old Rob Moore. A member of Team GB since 2003, the midfielder has racked up over 170 international caps on the hockey court as well as performing in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Working part-time as a hockey and cricket coach, Moore picks out the team’s 2009 European gold and fourth place from the World Cup last March as his career highlights but he also boasts an impressive golfing resume:

“I’m not bad, I’ve got a low handicap of three,” Moore modestly reveals. “I play a lot – it’s great for relaxation purposes. I like to play with the other squad members - we try to fit a game in when we’re away on trips or when we’re back in the UK.

I’m a member of the Berkshire golf club near Ascot which I really enjoy being part of – it’s a very long and difficult process to get into so I’m lucky to be a member of such a nice place. I play a lot when there are no games or training to be done and we get to play on so pretty nice courses around the world.”

Unsurprisingly, the hockey lads all agree that Moore’s the top golfer on the team but 22-year-old Ashley Jackson is a close runner-up on the course.

The 2009 World young hockey player of the year plays off a handicap of six and is a member of Sweetwood Park golf club in Sussex.

The 85-capped midfielder is a full-time athlete and despite his relative youth, made the Olympic, European and World Cup squads.

On his golfing endeavours, Jackson explained: “I play whenever I can do for a challenge and to be with friends and my team-mates. I can’t go (to Sweetwood Park) often but when it’s the off-season, I usually go two or three times a week.”

Proving golf’s not just for the male hockey professionals, is 25-year-old Chloe Rogers; a former national university golf champion and county champion.

As an attacking midfielder, Rogers has an impressive 106 international caps since her GB debut in 2003 and states Commonwealth Games bronze (2006) and European and World Cup bronze (in 2007 and 2009, respectively) as her best hockey achievements.
Another stand-out accomplishment was placing sixth in the Beijing Olympics despite the team being ranked tenth prior to the Games.

A full-time athlete who occasionally coaches and gives motivational talks in schools, Rogers however, could have easily gone down the route of chasing a career as a professional golfer:

“I won the BUSA (British University - now BUCS) singles title in 2007 and I played in many English and British amateur competitions in the 2003/4 seasons and was the Essex champion in 2003.” Rogers revealed.

“I’m a member of the Braintree golf club in Essex – I try to play there when I can; I do county competitions when I have the time. I really enjoy playing golf - I would have liked to have tried to become a pro if it were not for hockey.

It’s nice to do another sport occasionally – it doesn’t tire you out and it’s nice especially in the sunny weather. Not many of our women play so I don’t usually play when we’re abroad but we’ll sometimes go to a driving range.”

Providing more opposition on the course for Moore and Jackson is part-time PE teacher and hockey coach Matt Daly. The 26-year-old has notched up 135 caps as an up-front attacker and was in the squad that took continental glory last summer.

On why he plays golf, Daly explained: “I’m not a member of a golf club, I’m a social golfer in the nice summer days. I play off a handicap between ten and twelve.

Because we’re all either full or part-time athletes, it’s nice that we can go for a round of golf occasionally – we do more at home than abroad. We occasionally get the chance to play before the start of a big tournament abroad; we’re fortunate we get those opportunities and it’s nice with my team-mates.”

With a handicap of 14; still quite an admirable score, is the fifth golf enthusiast from the hockey world; Simon Mantell.

Aged 26, the hockey forward owns 90-odd caps and has scored 28 goals in his international career. Mantell is another full-time athlete and was sidelined with a fractured metatarsal for two months from March this year before returning to full-fitness after an operation where a pin was inserted.

Golf, he says, is the only other sport the team’s physio allows them to play: “I like playing against the squad and I’m a member of the Mendit golf club in Somerset,” Mantell revealed.

“I play when I can, it’s a great sport - great for active-recovery on our rest days. It’s great for mental toughness – you can be competitive with yourself and also your friends. My favourite course was when we were away in the 2008 Olympic holding-camp in Macau – the golf and country club there was great. I’m not the best golfer in the squad – that would be Rob.”

1 comment:

Oli said...

Nice article, and you spoke to the main women, Chloe!