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Grant and Ryan Fox’s shared success

The former All Black’s son is following in his sporting dad’s footsteps.

With an elite sportsman as a father, it was probably inevitable that Grant Fox’s son Ryan would want the same taste of success. But while All Blacks selector Grant and just-turned professional golfer Ryan share a competitive nature and innate sporting talent, Ryan isn’t exactly a chip off the old block. However, they say it’s their differences that have enabled them to succeed in their chosen fields.

Grant’s intense nature helped him become a force to be reckoned with on the rugby field as one of the All Blacks’ greatest goal kickers, but it’s his son’s laid-back nature that helps him keep a cool head on the golf course. “I probably get frustrated a bit more quickly than he does,” says Grant. “He’s very determined but in a different way than me because he’s softer by nature. I’m not known for my patience,” he laughs.

“It’s not as apparent with him, but Ryan’s tough mentally,” Grant explains. “It’s an important trait to have – mental toughness at the top level of sport is really critical. “Rarely you find that you get an X-factor person with mental toughness – they are the elite few. Under that you’ve got a whole lot of people with really similar talent and the thing that sets them apart is the mental skills.”

Grant (49), who also has a daughter, Kendall (22), didn’t push Ryan (25) to play rugby, but he admits he did want his son to take up a sport. So Ryan hitting hole-in-ones on the golf course naturally fills his father with pride. Although Ryan played rugby and cricket at school, it was while playing golf in his late teens that his true talent emerged. Watching professional golfers on TV also helped him to  realise his dream could become a reality.

“There are so many different things to master in golf,” says Ryan, who, along with Grant, is a member of the exclusive Royal Auckland Golf Club. He believes preparation and practice are the two keys to his success, and studying psychology also turned out to be an unexpected bonus, providing him with the mental skills to cope with the competitive sport. “I understand things a bit more,” Ryan explains.

Since becoming a professional golfer after finishing seventh at qualifying school in Melbourne in December, Ryan is halfway to achieving his goal of earning money from his favourite sport. So far it’s been his parents, Grant and mum Adele, who have helped support him financially.

“We wanted him to get a degree behind him because we don’t know what’s going to happen with golf – you might achieve your dream, or you may not. The real world might beckon,” Grant explains.

“We want him to be the best he can be and if that means he achieves his dream and can play this game for a living, brilliant! If not and he’s tried and failed, then it’s better to have tried and failed than not tried at all. And we’re giving him every chance to do that. Financially, we can help him.”

Ryan lives at home and also receives some funding from New Zealand Golf for travelling, coaching and physiotherapy. Grant was recently appointed an All Blacks selector and late last year announced his decision to quit his role as a Sky Sports rugby commentator.

“The offer to be involved with the All Blacks, which is a team I’m deeply passionate about, was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, but I had already made the decision to leave Sky before it came up,” Grant explains. Meanwhile, Ryan hasn’t given himself any deadline for achieving his dream. He knows he’s fortunate to be in a position to turn professional.

“I really appreciate Mum and Dad’s support. I couldn’t do it without their help,” says Ryan. Right now, Ryan needs to keep working on his game, and Grant is thrilled at how his skills have progressed. “I’ve loved supporting Ryan in chasing his dream and I’ve been fortunate I’ve been able to spend a lot of time travelling with him,” says Grant. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

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