In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Joost Luiten discusses his return to competition at this week’s Austrian Open
It’s always nice to go back to courses where you’ve won before, which is why I chose to start here in Austria. I know this course really well, I’ve got great memories of this place and I think it’s just a really good golf course. It’s a strong driving course, there’s not many weak holes, and you’ve got to be good in every department of the game. For some reason it just suits my eye, and this week it’s just about getting a feel for the greens and getting a feel for tournament golf again.
It’s not the biggest event but at the end of the day I don’t think that matters right now. I just want to get into a nice rhythm and get some competitive rounds under my belt. I’ve had good weeks here in the past and hopefully we can do the same this week.
I haven’t decided about the rest of my schedule yet. It depends a little bit on the situation as I have qualified for the US PGA Championship, but right now I want to focus on getting some tournament rounds under my belt in Austria. It’s important to get a feel for competition again.
Me and my caddie Maarten have spent a bit of time in the car travelling the last couple of days. It’s a ten-hour drive but we just took it easy, so we did five hours on Sunday, stopping in Munich and then did another four or five hours on Monday. He’s been keeping me entertained, too, and the last couple of months we’ve not seen each other a lot, so it was fun to catch up in the car and have some company.
It’s a bit further than normal. Usually I drive if it’s to Paris, and I’ve done to Cologne in Germany, because that’s only a two hour drive from Rotterdam. This is one where you would normally fly but because it felt like a better idea to drive and we had some extra time anyway so we thought why not.
We did hit road works in Austria. It was a strange one, we had traffic standing completely still and everyone was standing on the road because nothing was happening. It took about 45 minutes to get moving again so it was a bit annoying but that’s all part of travelling by car.
It’s mostly been an easy journey, although there are a lot of different rules so it’s a bit confusing when you drive though different countries. When we went to fill up the car in Germany, we did it without masks on and when I went to pay the lady was quite upset that I wasn’t wearing one. I quickly learnt that you need to take in your surroundings and that other countries have different processes compared to back home. Luckily, we had some in the car so after that we thought it’s better to put a mask on in all public spaces. Everyone is wearing it now, so it is almost weirder if you don’t.
It is different at the golf course too, but that’s what we need to get used to. There will be no fans, there are no ropes around the fairways and there are no real signs by the tees. At the end of the day, we are lucky to be playing our sport.
When we arrived, everybody coming on site must do a temperature test and then a nose and throat swab before they are allowed to use the facilities. I think over here in Europe we’re in a different situation to the United States. It seems to be a bit more under control over here at the moment which is good, but we need to make sure we keep doing the right thing. I know it will be a different world at tournaments for a little bit but hopefully we can go back to normal soon.
I wouldn’t say that this break has been a difficult time for me. It was more annoying that I was starting to play well and then we had to stop, but it’s one of these situations where you just have to accept it. There were no other options to be playing, and it’s not like you’re injured and you’re annoyed at how your body feels, it’s a global pandemic. You’ve got to accept it, and hope it will be better someday, and then you just need to be there again.
I kept myself quite busy. My girlfriend’s parents have a nine hole golf course so I have been helping out there painting sheds, making a new green, reshaping the fairways and making new tee-boxes. It was a lot of fun to see the other side of golf, to see what kind of work goes in to preparing the golf course and I was happy to help out. Plus, it was good exercise for me at the same time.
Helping out the local golfclub the dunes golf doing some maintenance!— Joost Luiten (@joostluiten) March 19, 2020
All Golfcourses and ranges closed so perfect time to help them out with things like this👨🏼🎨
If everybody helps each other in these difficult times we will come out of it strong and better💪#coronavirus #virus pic.twitter.com/ZOxHgISxKw
I’ve been working a lot on my putting, some things in my swing and my grip a little bit. As a golfer you never stop working. There are always subtle things that you try to work on and that never stops, so this has given me a little more time to get it in the system. Normally you have to do it within a short amount of time before the next tournament, but we’ve had at least a couple of months to really grind it in which was good.
It feels like it’s been a long time of just practicing and not preparing, and I like to prepare for tournaments. I like knowing that I need to be ready by a certain date because it keeps me a little more motivated. Obviously there was no real date to train or work towards so it was good to have the schedule come up a few weeks ago and I could start preparing for tournament golf again.
I did play the Indoor TrackMan Invitational tournaments which was good fun and the best thing that we could do at the time. It was good to win at St Andrews and win some money for charity, but I’m happy the real thing is about to start.
We’ve been out for three or four months but at the end of the day the game is still the same, I’m still the same player as before, so I’m here to try and win the tournament. I think that should be your goal every week as a player – if it’s going to happen we don’t know but that’s the goal and that’s what we train for and hopefully I can have a good week and give myself a chance on Sunday.