From the lows of losing a child and considering packing up your clubs, to the highs of having a healthy baby and earning a European Tour card, it’s been a testing 18 months for Scotland’s David Law.
Here the European Tour rookie talks openly and honestly about the pain he has felt, the strength of his partner Natasha, and the support he has received following the birth of their stillborn son, Freddie, last year.
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. You learn that you’re going to be a parent and you build up for what is almost nine months. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people lose children. It doesn’t matter at what stage in the pregnancy, our son Freddie was born last July as a stillborn.
It’s a horrible thing to have to go through for any parent. I think you naturally grieve for your family too. Not just for your partner, but also for our parents. They’re going through the ordeal just as much as we are, and it certainly makes you appreciate family a lot more after times like that.
For a month after we lost Freddie I found it really hard to talk about. I think that’s only natural for men really. My partner Natasha was the opposite. She wanted to talk about him and I found it really difficult. I never went to any of the follow up meetings or anything like that as I returned to the Challenge Tour just two weeks after Freddie was born. I found that an incredibly brave thing for Natasha to do on her own while I was in the middle of Europe playing golf.
The last six or seven months have been the longest of my life. You’ve had a bad experience of it all so you’re apprehensive and you just want everything to be okay. Thankfully my partner Natasha and I had a healthy baby girl, Penelope, last Wednesday. Mother and daughter are both well.
I got a lot of support from players out on the Challenge Tour. I remember my first event back in Finland. It was two weeks after losing Freddie. A lot of guys were really good. I remember Morten Ørum Madsen came up to me. I didn’t know Morten at this time, never played with him, never met him and he just came along and said: “it’s good to see you back” and he just walked on. That was something that really stuck with me. You see your fellow competitors on a more personal side. It probably helped me on a golf side too as I didn’t see them as just that ‘really good golfer’, more like humans with emotions, just like I am. Sometimes we need to realise that golf is just completely secondary to life in general.
Sometimes we need to realise that golf is just completely secondary to life in general
At the time golf was a hindrance. I would have liked to have stayed off the Tour for a lengthy period and been at home but I knew that if I didn’t go straight back to playing – I only had two weeks off – I don’t think I would’ve wanted to come back at all.
What is so important is that not only do you remember your child that you lose, but you need to carry on with life for them. That was the sort of message that Natasha said to me. You need to do your child proud. That was something I strived to do at the end of last year. I didn’t play good at all but my goal was to try my best and do Freddie proud.
We never moved any of Freddie’s stuff from our house. His room is still called Freddie’s room. Only in the last month or so did we start to take his clothes out of his wardrobe. That was one thing we didn’t want to do. I think you either do that straight away or it gets harder the longer you leave it. We knew that we were going to have more kids. We have lots of reminders of Freddie about the house and we very much try and remember him as much as possible. We have a bobble on the Christmas Tree with his name on it, there’s stuff everywhere.
You need to be really there for each other right from the start. The only time it really got difficult was when I didn’t really speak about him. That was in the immediate few weeks after it happened, but we addressed it early on. It’s natural for a guy not to want to talk too much or share their emotions, but once I did learn to open up and speak about him I found it a lot easier.
I would have liked to have stayed off the Tour for a lengthy period and been at home but I knew that if I didn’t go straight back to playing – I only had two weeks off – I don’t think I would’ve wanted to come back at all
One thing which has really helped me was something I read six weeks ago. My brother, who is a sports journalist, sent me an interview with Harry Arter, a professional footballer in the Premier League, who went through the same experience and that really helped me, even recently.
I don’t even think he or his partner held their daughter, and he shares their struggles of wanting to forget about the whole ordeal. I didn’t really have the courage to read the article until recently but it was helpful, just to know that you aren’t alone.
Last Wednesday our daughter Penelope arrived at 7pm, so we had Thursday, Friday and Saturday together before I jetted off here to South Africa on Sunday. It was difficult to leave Penelope and Natasha but it was an amazing day. At the end of it, once we learned that mother and daughter were fit and healthy, it was an amazing feeling and nothing will ever match that.
I’ve been getting a lot of pictures of her this week, and I have spent a lot of time on FaceTime with her just now, which helps. Our plan for Christmas is to spend a lot of time together, and with our families, as I’m sure everyone will want to meet her.
Last night we welcomed Penelope Rae Law to our world. Born December 5th at 7pm. So proud of Tash and grateful to our amazing Midwife’s and consultant. Little sister to Freddie and she is the most gorgeous little girl... but maybe we are biased ❤️😍 pic.twitter.com/IEnu1o7rK2— David Law (@DavidLawGolf) December 6, 2018
It’s only natural that you doubt yourself after years on Tour. It was about 12 months ago when the doubt really started to creep in and I started doubting myself.
It was about the time when things got tough at home and I was feeling like I’d rather be at home than out on Tour. It’s not a question you want to ask yourself, or even speak to anyone about, but ultimately it’s your job. If you’re not earning enough to look after your family then it’s time to ask the question.
I had actually lined up some part time work over this winter to keep me going, so I guess it was a bit of an incentive. It was also something for me to fall back on. The plan was to help out one of my sponsors who rent out gym equipment to companies. It was a mix of being in the warehouse to going to sales meetings, learning the ropes. I’m grateful that I managed to play my way out of that this winter.
To have played on the Challenge Tour for so long, five years I think it was, and to eventually win and get my card to the European Tour is something I’m really proud of. I feel like I, like many other golfers out here, have in recent months been rewarded for my patience in carrying on.
It was always something I set out to do. To win on Tour and to do that at home, in Scotland, was amazing. I took so much confidence and belief from that week.
Paul Lawrie and I are very close. He’s helped me out since I was 15. He’s my short game coach and now he manages me. To have someone like Paul who has been out here for so long, to advise me is invaluable.
This last six weeks he’s been really helpful in getting me prepared for the European Tour. If I’ve ever got any issues he’s always the first person I go to.
One thing he really drummed into me was my body language, something that I applied the week I won. His advice was to show that I’m confident and in control of my emotions and that has certainly been useful in securing my playing rights.
With my girls Penelope and Natasha, and with Paul’s support, and a season on the European Tour ahead, it’s exciting times.