London: Are professional golfers, beneath the fine screen of glamour, lonely beings? Yes, says a new study.
In the midst of intense rivalries and on a meagre income, many professional golfers are leading lonely isolated lives, the study said.
John Fry from Myerscough College interviewed 20 professionals, including Ryder Cup players and a former world number one, to reveal the "particular stresses" behind the glamour of the game.
Fry said that the number of tournaments held abroad had increased over recent years.
"Players spend long periods of time away from home and many experience intense feelings of loneliness, isolation and perceptions of being cut off from the 'real world'," Fry said.
He said that although players formed superficial friendships to help ease the boredom and loneliness of being away from their families, "players would avoid confiding in other players at all costs".
One golfer told him: "One thing is no one's going to care. The majority of people that you tell your woes, half of them will be happy and the other half don't care."
This isolation was increased by lack of contact with their families.
One golfer who had won six of the elite European tour events told Fry: "I don't see my kids that much. I miss my wife, my kids, my parents. I don't see them enough, and that's what is difficult."
The former world number one said that "the hardest part of tour life is being away from the family".
Fry also found that most professional golfers outside of the main European tour were struggling financially.
While top-level golfers who played well enough to stay on the European Tour circuit could make a good living, for those in the lower level Challenge and EuroPro tours it was difficult to break even.
To earn 60,000 pounds at the Challenge tour, with tax and touring 30,000 pounds expenses to pay, a player needed to finish in the top 20 of the rankings list, out of around 400 players.