When I was a little girl, a few years ago now, Father Christmas bought me set of plastic golf clubs. I loved those golf clubs – they were red, blue, yellow and green. I soon discovered, that if you hit your 3 year old sister over the head with them, she will cry and they will get confiscated. Sadly, after #golfgate I never saw those golf clubs again and there ended my golfing career.
Fast forward 36 years and I’m again presented with a golfing opportunity. I’ve literally not touched a set of golf clubs since 1980.
During those years, golf has undergone a transformation. I remember in my London days, working alongside the (predominantly male) sales team from a golfing magazine. They would stand there, swinging their imaginary golf clubs, discussing deals that would be done on the golf course. This did not seem like an environment for me, with my blue hair extensions and purple DMs. If someone asked me to describe golf, the words elitist, expensive, inaccessible, male dominated and old would have sprung to mind!
“…golf is more accessible than it’s ever been…”
Those days are long gone and golf is more accessible than it’s ever been. And although when I was asked if I’d like to try a golf taster session at the Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy, throwing on my latest Pringle sweater and plus fours on, I was intrigued. Would I enjoy it or was it really a good walk ruined, as Mark Twain is quoted as saying?
I was met in reception by Pro-golfer, Simon Dainty. Simon has a been professional since 2002 and has worked for prestigious golf clubs around the country, before returning to his Suffolk roots last year. He’s won various golfing tournaments, whilst representing his country.
Fortunately for me, as well as being a very good golfer, Simon is an excellent coach.
Before we even stepped outside, we sat down, had coffee and Simon explained how the morning would progress. I warned him about my lack of hand eye coordination (this isn’t me being self-deprecating, you can ask any former PE teacher, I’m just rubbish at that sort of thing!) I was also upfront about my lack of experience. I’ve not really played any crazy golf either! Neither of these things appeared to be a problem for Simon.
He said he felt it’s important to get a proper experience of playing golf, by not just going to the driving range and wacking balls, but to get out on the golf course and to actually attempt to putt a ball.
Out first port of call was the golf buggy and Simon gave me a tour of the golf courses. Stoke by Nayland Golf Club is unusual in that it offers 2 full size golf courses, the Gainsborough and The Constable, inspired by our local landscape artists. The courses are set in a stunning location. For those that have this perception Suffolk is flat, are just wrong! Lakes, hills and as I like to call them, sandpits (although I believe more seasoned golfers call them bunkers) make up a challenging course
“Unbelievably, I actually hit the ball and continued to improve with each swing…”
The next stop was the driving range, where I’m given my first post #golfgate experience. In my mind, I thought there would be a lot attention spent on making sure I was holding the golf club (or Penny Stick as I call it) correctly. Simon explained that it’s better to feel confident and happy when you start out, intuitively hitting the golf ball, rather fiddling around, making sure your thumbs are in the right position. Unbelievably, I actually hit the ball and continued to improve with each swing. There are a gazillion different types of clubs/Penny Sticks, but the ones I felt most comfortable holding, those clubs specifically made for women. They were lighter, but probably didn’t need to be pink, although they were. Let me tell you, there’s something ever so satisfying about correctly hitting a ball and watching it fly through the air, in the general direction you were aiming for.
After a practice of whacking the balls into the holes (It didn’t take me 38 attempts and I didn’t ruin the grass by hacking at it.) we were back in the buggy to the 10th hole on the Gainsborough Course. There was 150 yards between me and the flag. It was windy, I could see a lake and we were on a big hill (I know it was a big hill because I ran up and down it last year with the running club) How many attempts would it take to get the ball in the hole. Hmmmm 16, 20, 36? Nope, I did it in 8. I listened and took on board Simon’s excellent advice and encouragement.
By then, it was back to hotel for more hot drinks and I got to ponder on my first grown up experience of golf.
I was a complete sceptic. But, I’m not afraid to admit it. I was wrong. There is something very appealing about golf. Whether it’s being outside in the beautiful Suffolk countryside, working on a difficult shot and then succeeding, it very satisfying.
There are so many benefits to golf, rather than include it in this article, you can click on this link here to read more.
Free taster sessions are available to all. You can try in groups or have one to one. On April 8-9th, the Stoke by Nayland Golf Club are hosting an open weekend to let you have look around. It’s a great opportunity to talk to the team, have a go and find out more about it.
Golf doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get unlimited golf from just £250 per year and to head out to the golfing range, with a bucket of balls, costs just £2 for 25 balls and that INCLUDES use of the putting green, pitching, chipping and bunker (sandpit) practice.
So, if you’ve thought you’d quite like to give golf a try, you don’t have anything lose by trying a taster session. Who knows, you might have found your new perfect hobby.