RIP Seve Ballesteros 1957-2011: Goodbye to a golfing genius

Talented people do things that others cannot do.

A genius, on the other hand, does things that others cannot even imagine.

Seve Ballesteros, who passed away early this morning, was a true genius, revelling in doing things that others believed couldn’t be done. Revelling. You couldn’t help but see just how much he enjoyed doing what he did; his enthusiasm and passion were of epidemic proportions, infecting all in any sort of proximity, even via television.

It wasn’t enough for him that he was the youngest to win the Open for over eight decades. It wasn’t enough for him to be the first (and second) European to win the Masters. It wasn’t enough for him to be part of the first European team to win the Ryder Cup on American soil.

Such records are there to be beaten. And they will be beaten. They’re not what defined Seve.

What defined Seve was his supreme talent and his effervescent personality, a combination that ensured he kept doing things others could not imagine, as in the examples below. Others drove cars in and out of car parks. Seve drove golf balls in and out of car parks. Others went down on their knees, enslaved by the game. He went down on his knees to show his mastery of the game. Others played for the tiger line. He moved the tiger line to places it had never been.


The car park golfer in action


On his knees, bringing the golfing world to its knees



Driving the 10th at the Belfry… because it was there to be done



I’m not much of a golfer. As they say, I stand too close to the ball. After I hit it.

Yet I love my golf, love playing it when I can, however badly. There’s something about the game that fascinates me, how each shot is as unique as a snow crystal; how each game is really three: you play the opponent, you play the course and conditions, and you play yourself.

Like most of you, I’ve watched Seve many times on TV and video; like some of you, I’ve had the privilege of watching him play “live” a few times. And I will never forget him.

Seve Ballesteros, you taught a world that it was possible to do things others could not imagine. As importantly, you taught a world how to do this while visibly enjoying yourself.

Your talent, your attitude, your enthusiasm, have been an inspiration to generations. We salute you.