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View from the red tee: Getting started
One decent shot and I was hooked.
Watching the golf ball sail far and straight after making a good connection with my 7 iron, made me feel like I was just months away from taking on Michelle Wie and Charley Hull. I mentally started making a list of potential sponsors and the new accessories I would need. I was definitely going for the diamond patterned v-neck with matching florescent visor combo.
Full of confidence, I swung again…. Swoosh went the club as it violently cut through the air. The golf ball, however, remained perfectly still on the tee. My dreams of being kitted out in Callaway clutching the Women’s British Open trophy slowly faded
It was ambitious perhaps to think that I would be hitting consistently after a lesson, but that satisfying shot was enough to confirm my decision to take up golf was a great one. After a few lessons in my 20s I had given it up, deeming it far too male and far too expensive to be my kind of activity. A decade later I thought of golf again when looking for a new outdoor sport to take part in, something sociable where I could learn a different set of skills.
An England Golf survey in 2012 found that only 14 per cent of adult golf club members were female. This is hardly a surprise for a sport which historically has been seen as the domain of the middle aged man, and the largest participation across both sexes remains in the 45 – 64 year old category. The sport and its benefits haven’t been marketed to women, particularly young women, so it’s no wonder we are off taking part in other seemingly more inclusive activities.
However, times are changing. Golf clubs and driving ranges across the UK are working hard to improve accessibility and get more ladies of all ages involved in the game. In my first class I was pleasantly surprised to see that our group of six included four women.
We started off with the 7 iron, learning the basics – grip, stance and swing. It was interesting to see the impact playing other sports had on these fundamentals. One guy had played baseball and held the club like a bat, while another lady fenced and kept her legs in position at first rather than allowing her body to move through the swing. I found I was using muscles I didn’t know I had, and at the end of the first few classes my lower back and upper arms definitely felt the workout.
Golf is an excellent game for women with a great mix of physical and mental challenges. Trying to perfect your swing and reproduce it consistently tests the professionals, let alone beginners! But, the high when you hit the ball cleanly and see it land with a soft thud exactly where you wanted it far outweigh the drawbacks.
I will be blogging about my foray into golf – lessons, playing, clothes and more – and hope you enjoy reading my posts. You can follow my progress on twitter @NeonGolfer.
What do you need to get started?
Enthusiasm, comfortable clothing you can twist in and, most importantly, patience!
Offers on beginner lessons can be found everywhere. I learnt with World of Golf Croydon, which holds a free beginner’s course of six one-hour lessons with a PGA qualified instructor. He was a warm, relaxed guy full of encouragement. You pay only for the range balls which was approximately £5 per lesson.
Lessons take place all year round, your only concern is dressing appropriately for the British weather. I started in winter, definitely chilly but it made for a smaller group so more one to one attention. An added bonus was come the summer we were ready to get on the golf course and take advantage of the long sunny days – perfect timing!
I wore normal clothes – jumpers, black jeans and trainers. I did end up buying a fancy pair of Adidas golf shoes with yellow laces – by far the coolest golf shoes you will see anywhere – but these were only £20 in a sale. With just the one old club I feared I would be woefully unprepared for classes but it wasn’t so. Some of the group borrowed clubs from the range, something I have seen at other venues also, so courses can be the perfect way of finding out if the sport is for you before investing further.
You can search for lessons near you at www.getintogolf.org but I would also recommend calling your local golf course or driving range to ask about their offers. If there are a few of you don’t forget to ask about discounted group lessons. Be brazen and get good value!
Bobbie Lakhera, Sportsister
The Women’s Sport Magazine
About Bobbie’s blog
Deciding to take up a new sport at the age of 36, Bobbie settled on golf and can now be found on driving ranges and golf courses across the south east. She is sharing her own experiences of learning in View from the red tee, hoping the posts might be useful for other women who are interesting in wielding a club with a heady of mix of elegance and strength.