Learning to play golf... for ladies!
As I approached my 50th birthday, I found myself doing a considerable amount of introspection – what have I achieved, what have I contributed to this world and what does the future hold? This all became rather intense so to lighten things up a bit I decided to set myself some targets for my 50th year. One was to learn a new skill. And my choice of new skill? Well, that just happened to be golf.
By Sarah Hitching, new golf enthusiast and Exclusive employee
a bit rusty!
I’d played a bit of golf when I was a student – yes, yes – all a long time ago – this was mostly because I was going out with a guy who played a fair amount so it was a case of attempt to play golf or don’t spend any time with my fella!
where to start?
But, as a woman, where do you start? My perception was that golf clubs were intimidating but they have changed out of all recognition these days and are no longer the stuffy old, male dominated domains that they used to be - I even hear the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in the Home of Golf, St. Andrews started permitting lady members in 2014 so that’s progress at the highest level for you. So, undaunted by that outdated perception, I headed for my local golf club – after some research I discovered that they have an active ladies section, several PGA Professionals offering group and individual classes, some excellent teaching facilities and some lovely looking golf gear in the Pro Shop (well, you’ve got to look nice on the course haven’t you!). The element that really piqued my interest was the ladies only golf clinic that they offer weekly – this would mean I could ease my way in gently and revel in the camaraderie of learning my new skill with fellow ladies!
So... I signed up!
Over a period of a few weeks, I was introduced to four basic steps:
step 1: learn the basics
I was introduced and became comfortable with the equipment, including the nomenclature of the clubs. I now know the difference between a putter and a driver, an iron and a wood and even a pitching wedge and fairway wood. Next came a tour of the practice area and teaching facilities – it was reassuring to know where I would be learning the full swing, the bunker shot, where the putting green was, all of those things... I was less self-conscious when it came to turning up for my lessons.
During this first stage, I was also given a couple of tips on the proper clothing etiquette. Yes, as women, we do care what we look like - and we should - but there are also some rules and etiquette norms that I needed to know regarding what is appropriate and what isn't. You don't have to go out and spend a lot on new shoes or golf outfits, but you don't want to call attention to yourself by wearing the wrong attire either.
step 2: learn about the club
Whilst I was pretty comfortable about using the facilities around the clubhouse it was nice to be shown where to drop off my clubs as I arrived, where to park, where to check in, where the locker rooms were and where to find golf buggies. I was also introduced to the golf professional in the shop and was shown how to book a tee time. Being comfortable as you arrive is such a large part of making you feel welcome on a golf course and addressing some of these issues made a big difference in my attitude as I started using the club.
step 3: enjoy playing
I was so excited about hitting a golf ball – I have pretty good hand to eye coordination so I was confident that I would be able to connect club to ball – but could I make it travel in a straight line? So I was really pleased that one of my first lessons was learning the full swing. Hitting a ball, seeing it fly, making solid contact – wow, that was super satisfying!
step 4: play the course
After five or six lessons, I was ready to test my skills on the course. I was taken to the 200 yard marker on each hole and allowed to play in from there. There, I learnt every shot I would need and gained a huge amount of confidence. Being out on the golf course, with the scenery, the socialising, the accomplishment, it was so much more enjoyable than attending lesson after lesson on the range.
a real sense of achievement
My goal was to learn a new skill – I am immensely proud that I have achieved that but the bigger achievement is that I feel comfortable and excited about playing golf, have met some wonderful new friends, both female and male and I am a whole lot fitter. I totally recommend it!