Matthew Griffin: An offer too good to refuse

Victorian Matthew Griffin is one of four Australians to have qualified for this week’s Golf Nippon Series JT Cup, the 30-man Tour Championship for the Japan Golf Tour.

Here Griffin explains why it is a tournament he simply had to play, his disappointment at missing the Australian Open and why getting back on the plane has been harder than ever in 2019.

It’s really difficult to be away this week.

I’ve always tried to prioritise the Australian Open. As an Australian it’s the one tournament you really want to win so every time you miss it it’s hard to take.

If it was anything but the Tour Championship I’d definitely be home but having put in five years of work up here in Japan and finally getting to this level, as much as I would like to be home you simply can’t miss it.

This week is almost a celebration of the end of the year for the guys that have made it. Everyone who is here has had a great year so it’s nice to be recognised amongst that.

I know over the last few weeks as it got a little bit closer to me getting in you start to feel a bit of pressure to stay inside that top 30. It’s definitely not the same as trying to hold onto your card but you absolutely want to get into this field.

I didn’t realise that it had been so long since there had been four Aussies in this event but I did know when Anthony Quayle got in that four was a really good representation of the Aussie guys over here. The other good thing this year is that all the Aussies who played on the tour kept their full playing rights. That’s pretty rare when there are eight or nine of us up here doing it.

I was fortunate to get a couple of good results up early in the season which not only took the pressure off making sure I had a job for next year but also gave me the opportunity to spend some extra time at home.

At the start of the year I knew my wife Liz and I would welcome our first child midway through the year and with that would come some additional pressure.

In the back of my mind I was really hopeful that I’d get off to the start that I did. That meant that when Jack came into the world on June 21 I was able to have a few extra weeks at home with him and Liz that I may not otherwise have had.

This was actually supposed to be the last of a five-week stretch for me up here in Japan but it got a little bit too much for me being away from them and I had to go home last week and spend a few days with the family, which was great.

It might be the accountant in me coming out but the hardest thing when you are away from home now is that the opportunity cost of being away is greater. When you tee it up in a tournament you do feel some pressure to play well because if you’re sitting in your hotel room on the weekend with no work to do it makes you miss home a little bit more.

At the opposite end, getting back on the plane at home in Melbourne to come away has been very difficult, especially as Jack has grown and become a bit more interactive. If you are going to be away for weeks at a time you understand at this age that he’s going to be a different person by the time you get home.

I’m glad this week is only one week away because when they give you that little smile it melts your heart. I really don’t know how I’ll handle it when he’s old enough to say, ‘Don’t go Daddy.’

The Aussie guys that I’ve spoken to up here all say that it does get harder, when the kids start to say that they miss you and the like. David Bransdon’s daughter wrote a card for him at school saying, ‘I wish my Dad didn’t go away so much.’ I know for all the guys that just breaks their heart.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t quite realise how difficult it would be going away. If I’m going away and having good years like this then I think I can cope with it because the benefit for your family is so great. But if golf was to become a struggle and you’re just getting by, you’d definitely have to look at exploring some other paths.

The other side of it is that whilst we do travel that 20-25 weeks of the year, when we’re home we’re at home a lot. If you’re working 9-5 or 9-7 you barely see your kids anyway so there are costs and benefits in all of it.

I’ll be home next week – I’m actually taking Liz to the Presidents Cup next Thursday and going with friends on Saturday – and then I’ll play the PGA on the Gold Coast.

After that, I’m booked in for some quality father-son time.

Headlines at a glance