I have to be honest when Scott & Ben from Golf Partnership approached me to write a blog on a Love Island winner, I thought they had lost the plot. I have never watched Love Island and only really knew of its existence due to the team I worked with at Tottenham Hotspur. They were mainly single, in their early 20’s and spoke incessantly about the programme when it first came out in 2018. I was too busy watching England get to the World Cup semi-final.
Ben and Scott persuaded me that it would be a good blog story as Finn was really keen on his golf. They are helping him to document his journey as a complete beginner, whilst encouraging his age group to take up the game of golf and seeing how his own game might develop.
We met at Sunningdale Heath where Finn had just had his first lesson with Tom Reid one of the owners of the club. Tom was impressed but warned Finn that some of the drills he had provided would be difficult to work on whilst on the course but wished him the best of luck.
Turns out that Finn is an ex-professional footballer who used to play for MK Dons the only problem is he is also an Arsenal supporter !! We threw the balls up on the first tee and as luck would have it Finn and I would be taking on the two professionals Scott Drummond a previous BMW PGA Champion and Ben Hortop a professional golfer and first-class networker. Finn was given 25 shots by Scott whilst I was given 13 the same, he had given me back in the summer when he beat me comfortably 2 up!!
Finn as you would expect is a tall good looking 21-year-old and his 1.3 million followers on Instagram are made up of 90% females under the age of 25 and probably no 55-year-old male golfers apart from me ( he still hasn’t followed me back any idea why!)! There was an air of nervousness on the first tee as you would expect around strangers who on paper had very little in common other than golf.
Finn hit a good tee shot just short of the first green and as we walked down the fairway, he told me that he had only started playing golf in April after the last lockdown. He was aware that many other young people of his age had also taken up the game due to the benefits golf can give them such as connecting with like-minded people, outdoor exercise and better mental health. Finn and I forgot our North London rivalry when his second shot went straight in the hole for a 2 net one and the fist pumps cleared all the nerves and any tension remaining, we were off and running.
I asked Finn how and why he had applied for Love Island. Simply put he was in the pub with his mates and they egged him on to apply, after the third pint he agreed and sent in his application. He was told he had been chosen but would not enter the series from the beginning rather he would be contacted when the time was right. He got the call and rang his family to come home asap as he had only been given 24 hours’ notice before he would be whisked off to the island with no contact to the outside world for what ended up being close to 6 weeks.
The rest is history meeting Paige Turley and being crowned champions of the first-ever winter series of Love Island. Finn and Paige are still very much a couple proving sceptics, like me, a wrong which is a strange way he thanks Covid for as they became really close when they went into lockdown directly after finishing the show and spent so much time together.
Like any professional sportsman you could tell Finn was competitive and as much as Scott and Ben were trying, we kept using our shots with Finn holing some great putts and his short game is really good for someone who has only been playing for 6 months and after 9 holes we were 4 up.
I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised to find Finn a very engaging and likeable guy very different to the type of persona the media can give to this particular kind of celebrity. He would be perfect for the golfing governing bodies to encourage youngsters to play golf especially his female following as women millennials are so important to the game of golf. Finn also explained to me how he and Paige have monetised their win and have gained some very large corporate sponsors.
He is also grounded and realises that his Love Island reputation will fade and therefore is keen to progress a theme that he enjoys which happens to be golf. In addition, he sees the brands connected with the golf can provide longevity and his aim is to bring his young followers together with a more mature following through his golfing exploits.
We continued to keep the two professionals at bay and won on the 14th green 5&4 a great win against two tough competitors. Fin and I didn’t hold back our delight in winning all the way to Puttshack at Westfield in White city where Finn will host a party to launch his golfing story.
Neither of us had ever been to a Puttshack but really enjoyed the atmosphere and the game which I can only describe as mini-golf on speed! The environment is perfect for his launch and for Finn’s following as an introduction to the game.
When writing this blog, I came to realise how golf can bring different types of people together as can very different venues. Puttshack the very latest modern golf entertainment venue and Sunningdale Heath created in 1902 could not be more different. The same could be said for a 55-year-old golf blogger and a famous Love Island celebrity but we had fun, enjoyed each other’s company and I for one will look out for Finn’s story.
I really hope he does encourage some of his followers to take up the game and golf’s governing bodies support him in his quest.
Until next time