Espen Kofstad has learned the hard way that sometimes less can mean more.
The Oslo native was an interested spectator at the Norwegian Challenge this week, but instead of monitoring the progress of the country’s young golfing talent Kofstad would far rather have been out there showing them how it is done.
As it is, the 27 year old is under strict instructions to keep the clubs in the garage whilst he recovers from a lower back injury which will force him to miss the remainder of the season.
For a self-confessed gym bunny and practice range addict, the prolonged period of immobility has proved particularly frustrating but for the good of his career the two-time Challenge Tour champion has finally followed doctor’s orders and refrained from all physical activity.
“I’ve never been so bored in my life,” he revealed.
“It’s been a very frustrating time because I’m desperate to get back playing, but I know that if I come back too soon I could do more damage to the disc. So I’ve got pretty good at the PlayStation lately, and for the first time I have a pretty decent suntan instead of just on my arms! So there have been some benefits.”
The problem first flared at last year’s Qualifying School, where Kofstad narrowly missed out on retaining The European Tour card he had earned by winning the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2012.
But thinking the problem was purely muscular and would be solved by building up the strength in his back, Kofstad upped his visits to the gym before embarking on a round-the-world tour which took in visits to the World Cup of Golf in Australia and the Hong Kong Open – taking his tally of tournaments for the year to 34.
Something had to give, and sure enough his back began to spasm on his next appearance, in the Barclays Kenya Open. Hoping the pain would go away, Kofstad embarked on a training camp but on his return to his native Norway he could barely get off the sofa.
Six weeks of rest seemed to cure the problem, but after his return to competitive action in the NH Collections Open the pain recurred and, having sought further medical advice, Kofstad has finally conceded that playing through the pain barrier might not be the best course of action.
He said: “If the back doesn’t get any better by itself then surgery may be an option, but that would be a last resort. I’ve already written off the whole of this season, and hopefully I’ll be able to play under a medical exemption next year.
“I just played and travelled too much last year. I was on the road for about 40 weeks, and a lot of it was long-distance too. The travel, combined with practising and working out every day, put a lot of strain on my back, and in the end it just gave up on me.
“So I’m definitely going to have to change my whole approach, from my practice and gym routines to the number of tournaments I play. I’ve been told the problem won’t go away, but if I have regular physio and I look after myself, I can manage the condition and still play 20-25 tournaments a year.
“I think I played 34 tournaments in total last year, but towards the end of the season I didn’t want to miss a week because I was desperate to keep my card, so I just played in everything I could. I should have listened to by body and taken time off to rest and recover, but that’s very easy to say – it’s a lot harder to do when you’re sitting at home and watching people overtaking you in the rankings. But I’ve definitely learned my lesson the hard way.”