There are so many things Gareth Bale can do at this year’s World Cup. He can dazzle. He can inspire. He can represent himself and his country. He can reaffirm his standing as one of the world’s finest players.
There is, it turns out, only one thing he cannot: play golf.
According to multiple reports, Bale’s golfing proficiencies have earned the attention of his World Cup teammates and coaching staff, both of whom have pressured the uber-talented forward to steer clear of the sport in Qatar. Just last week, Wales manager Rob Page reportedly banned Bale from playing at Doha’s only golf course in an effort to draw his attention back toward soccer.
The problem, however, is that Bale is obsessed. He plays in celebrity pro-ams and outings whenever his schedule allows. Recently, he flashed a flag at the completion of an International match that read: “Wales, Golf, Madrid… In That Order.”
As the diehards among us know, it’s difficult to turn golf off. Even when you have better things to do, and even when those “better things” include “representing your country at the World Cup.”
And so, at this year’s World Cup, not even a ban has been enough to keep Gareth Bale away from golf. Rather, according to a report in The Daily ExpressBale has figured out an ingenious workaround: instead of bringing himself to the golf course, he brought the golf course to him.
According to the report, Bale had a golf simulator installed at the Wales team compound in Qatar, which is where he can be found in most moments in which he isn’t on the pitch. His teammates have also tried their hand at the machine, but they admit, there’s only one true user.
“We’ve just been in the swimming pool, playing table tennis, pool and golf,” said striker Mark Harris. “Team spirit is great anyway, but games like that help you. Gareth’s very good at the golf. I think most of us have had a swing and we had a go after training as we had some spare time.”
If Monday afternoon was any indication, Bale has had no problem focusing on the task at hand at the World Cup.
With the weight of his native Wales on his right foot, Bale drilled a penalty kick to knot things up with the United States in the 80th minute of Monday’s first Group Stage match, securing a potentially tournament-saving draw for his team and country. Bale’s goal was some 64 years in the making, the fulfillment of the biggest moment in Welch World Cup history since the country’s last entrance into the tournament back in 1958.
It’s possible Page will put a stop to Bale’s golf habit should the Welsh side advance through the Group Stage. The stakes will be higher then, as will the quality of opponent. Wales will need every ounce of Bale’s willpower if they’re to continue.
But it’s also possible Page has learned the same lesson opponents have for the better part of the last decade: it’s very hard to stop Gareth Bale.