Second Innings

Players on their careers and hobbies outside cricket

Pat Symcox

Spinner turned driver

Pat Symcox recently got a hole-in-one in pouring rain, and now dreams of playing on the South African Seniors Tour

Mark Pennell

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Pat Symcox laughs, Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 2, 1998
"How much is that birdie in the window?" © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Pat Symcox
Teams: South Africa

After I stopped playing, I spent almost eight years commentating for SuperSport TV and also worked all over the world for ESPN and Channel 10, but I gave that up to concentrate on my real-estate business.

These days I'm the managing director of the REMAX Toti real-estate franchise in KwaZulu Natal, just outside Durban. I work with my son and a whole load of other guys, specialising in commercial property, office blocks, that sort of thing. We do some residential letting, but that sector has been tough for everyone lately. All the boats are on low tide right now and everyone is fishing in the gully! Like everything in life, you just have to hang in, see it through, and when things do turn around, there will be opportunities to cement the business even further.

I usually work 12 hours a day, but when I get out I love to fish and play golf. I like to get out on the golf course at least three times a week, not just to play but to practise. I belong to a couple of courses on the Natal south coast, where I play off a handicap of five.

I was president of a club called Selbourne, and I also play at Scottburgh Golf Club, which is right next to my office. I love golf and my ambition is to play on the South African Seniors Tour once I turn 50. If I continue working hard at my game, I believe I can qualify and go on to play in monthly tournaments all over the country.

I often play with Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener, and there always seems to be a lot of testosterone on the course when the four of us play. Every tee seems like a long-drive competition. I guess Pollock is the best player among us. He plays off one, as does Lance, while Jonty plays off eight, but there's a little thing called experience and that's allowed me to beat them all a couple of times.

I hit a fairly long ball but if I could improve any aspect of my game it would be my putting. I think most people who play golf feel that.

The lob wedge is my most trusted club in the bag and if I can leave myself that sort of distance, I know I'll be close more often than not. Off the tee I guess my favourite, most consistent club, in terms of ball-striking, is my five-iron, with which I can hit up to 220 metres.

I carded my first hole-in-one in October 2009, on the 10th at Scottburgh. It's a short 123-yard, downhill par three, so I took a gap wedge, saw it pitch and roll and pop straight in the hole. It had been raining like crazy, and at the halfway house we talked about turning around and going straight back in. But I said let's play on for a couple more and see if it eases, so we set off and I holed in one at the very next hole. We then had to complete the whole bloody round in pouring rain because your hole-in-one isn't official unless you put in a completed card. My partners weren't happy! It cost me an arm and a leg buying drinks in the clubhouse, but luckily I'd taken out insurance and they paid out 2500 Rand, but believe you me, I spent that and more on the day!

As told to Mark Pennell, managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport

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