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I played a lot of different sports while growing up and my favourites have always been soccer and ice hockey. I started playing soccer when I was nine and played through to high school. I found my calling as a goalkeeper fairly early in the game, and I’ve received modest trophies over the years and have had the opportunity to play with some really talented guys. I don’t play anymore, but I still enjoy watching the game live or on TV.

Discovering Formula 1

One Saturday night in 1995, I was flipping channels and I saw a race on the CBC. I had never been interested in motor racing, but I noticed that Ferrari was one of the teams and that caught my attention. I was curious to learn what this was, and I discovered that I was watching the 1995 F1 Grand Prix from Adelaide, Australia. “Aaah! So this is Formula 1," I thought, and I instantly became a fan. Formula 1 was instantly more elegant and captivating than any of my previous impressions of motor racing.

One of my dreams is to attend as many Formua 1 events as possible. My brother and I made our first visit to an F1 Grand Prix in 1998 when we attended the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. If you’re a Formula 1 fan, you really need to make an effort to attend at least one Grand Prix weekend because it is an amazing experience! It may seem expensive, but it's so much more stimulating than what you see on TV. My brother and I attended our next F1 event in 2006 when we attended the 2006 Formula 1 Grand Prix in Suzuka, Japan.

A common mistake that people make when they hear that I’m a Formula 1 fan is that they assume I enjoy other forms of racing too, like NASCAR or Indy racing, which is what most Americans think of when they hear “motor sports.” For the most part, American racing bores me, especially oval racing, and I don’t think I’ll ever develop a taste for it.

Embracing the Game of Golf

Itrat Golfing

I used to make so much fun of golf! Whenever I would turn on the TV, even before the tube warmed up, I could tell if a golf game was being televised because the commentators would speak so softly. I used to think, “what a boring game!” And it didn’t help that many of the exciting F1 races I wanted to watch were pre-empted by six or more hours of people walking around a golf course!

I finally lightened up after my brother came back from his first game of golf and said it was actually fun. This was a surprise to me. Then in the fall of 2005, a business contact invited me to play 18 holes at the Caledon Golf and Country Club in Mississauga, and I was curious to try it for myself. With all its water hazards and elevation changes, the course wasn’t easy for a first-timer. I had a hard enough time just getting the ball in the air, but by the end of the round, I was hooked! I was determined to get better at this game so I purchased a set of discounted Jazz Golf clubs from my local Golf Town for $250.

In the spring of 2006, I did what every new golfer does: I scoured the Internet for tips on improving my golf swing, then I frequented the local driving range. I thought I was doing pretty well, hitting fairly straight shots with my driver and reaching distances of 200 yards or more. I only played three rounds of golf that year and I felt pretty good about it, despite the occasional hooks and slices which I assumed just meant I needed more practise. In early 2007, I played a charity event back at Caledon Golf and Country Club but I was terrible! I felt like I was hacking my way through the course, and I decided it was time to get some professional help.

I first checked the Richmond Hill Golf Club Web site for information on lessons because they seemed like one of the more professional establishments in the area. Lessons were expensive though at $130/hour, so I put the idea on hold. At the same time, their head teaching professional, Shawn Clement, had posted a number of his own articles on the Web site explaining different aspects of the golf swing. I found them easier to understand and more insightful than anything I had read so far. During my next visit to the driving range, Shawn’s tips had a noticeable improvement on my golf swing. After a few more visits to the range, I realized I still needed help, however the $130/hour rate didn’t seem so expensive anymore. Based on his articles, I felt pretty good that Shawn knew what he was talking about and I felt very fortunate that he taught right here in the GTA.

I’ve been taking lessons with Shawn since May 2007 and the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. Initially, all I wanted to do was learn how to hit the ball consistently, but now my goals have changed and I’d like to be a scratch golfer by the end of the 2008 season. I upgraded my clubs to a set of Cobra Golf Carbon CB irons and the Cobra M Speed driver and fairway woods. I’m much more comfortable and confident with those clubs and I absolutely love them. Once I reach my goal of becoming a scratch golfer, I’m not sure where I’ll go next. I’d like to compete at some level and I would honestly like to compete professionally, although I’m sure it’s much harder than it seems.