08 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |
St Andrews dreaming: Scott Arnold hopes to come full circle at Vic Open
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
Ten years is a lifetime that flashes by in an instant.
When Scott Arnold won the 2012 Vic Open at Spring Valley Golf Club in Melbourne, the 2022 edition at 13th Beach Golf Links may well have been part of his plans.
But what has transpired in the past decade has taken Arnold on a personal journey that is now centred around his wife Liz and two young boys, Elliott and Louie, and not the scores he scribbles in pencil at the end of 18 holes.
When Arnold shot 63 to be the leading men’s player after round one of TPS Victoria last week he reminded everyone – including himself – that the talent never left him.
Between juggling family commitments and his full-time job at The Ridge Golf Club in Sydney’s south, Arnold had practised for the grand total of 30 minutes prior to arriving at Rosebud Country Club yet if not for a triple bogey and double bogey on his back nine Saturday would have been contending for the title.
Yet unlike the 26-year-old who left Spring Valley confident he would conquer the world, Arnold now takes delight much closer to home.
“I had a triple bogey and a double the other day, get on FaceTime and saw videos of him,” Arnold says of Elliott who at two-and-a-half has already developed a golf obsession that runs strongly within the Arnold family.
“He was watching me on TV and when I was hitting, he was swinging. It was hilarious.
“It doesn’t matter. People take it way too serious. And you know what? When you’re young, you sort of have to.”
The son of long-time Cronulla Golf Club Professional Colin Arnold and with a brother, Jamie, who has built a successful career in the US, Scott Arnold’s path was almost predetermined.
He was runner-up at the St Andrews Links Trophy in successive years in 2006 and 2007, spent five weeks as the No.1-ranked amateur golfer on the planet in 2009 and turned professional later that year.
He looked destined for the big time following his breakthrough win at the 2012 Vic Open yet has been unable to establish himself on a major tour.
There was a victory on the Challenge Tour in Europe in 2015 – his best year as a professional – but injuries and the uncertainty of life without a consistent tour card forced a reshuffle in his priorities and a search for stability.
That is now the cornerstone of his existence and, somewhat perversely, allowing him to play some of the best golf of his career.
“I’m just more relaxed now when I play and whatever happens, happens,” says Arnold, who mixes in teaching with 38 hours a week in the shop at The Ridge.
“For me, it doesn’t really matter. I’m going home, I’ve got my kids, my family, and I’ll go to work regardless if I play well or not.
“Obviously you want to play well, but it’s not a priority anymore. Honestly, after last week I’m thinking it’s probably helping.
“You’re always your worst, harshest critic all the time. You’re the one that puts too much pressure on yourself and you’ve got other people that expect you to do things.
“Sometimes I just feel like people and that expectation end up pushing you away from the game.”
Tied for 23rd last week, Arnold’s 10-year anniversary of his Vic Open triumph is serving as a microcosm of his career to date.
Not only is there the reflection of his first win as a professional but the allocation of three exemptions into the 150th Open at St Andrews in July is a reminder of one of Arnold’s most treasured memories in the game.
In 2015 Arnold finished third behind Richard Green at 13th Beach and five months later played The Open at St Andrews, shooting 66 in the final round before enormous galleries to earn a share of 40th.
It’s a lure that is undeniable, even for a self-confessed part-time tournament golfer.
“That’s what the goal is obviously this week,” Arnold said of the three spots at St Andrews.
“Try and really focus in and not think about it too much but obviously it’s going to be in the back of your mind.
“Whoever gets the spots, if it’s a first timer, I’d just tell them to go and enjoy it. Really just soak it in because you don’t get that many chances to do it. And especially being the 150th, it’s going to be super special. It’s going to be awesome.
“You’re not really going to get that many chances to play an Open at St Andrews so enjoy it, stick to what you’ve been doing, get a good caddy, and get someone to give you some money because that’s going to be an expensive week.
“To get one of those spots would be a nice little cherry on top.
“Who knows? Maybe things will turn around full circle.”
Join our newsletter
Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.