From my experience over the last six months, golf is a welcoming sport and easy to get into once that initial spark is lit. As a sport where you largely challenge yourself as opposed to other people, it’s friendly and rewarding as you see yourself progress.
The main reasons I got into golf:
- To enjoy the outdoors
- To challenge myself
- To return to an old interest
- To share a hobby with my partner
In March this year, I was looking for something more active to do outdoors and really wanted to learn something new and out of my comfort zone. Ideally, I wanted to do this with my partner in the evenings and over the weekend. As I’d tried golf with my dad growing up, it didn’t take long for the sport to come to mind.
Uniquely, golf is the only sport where men and women can play together; there may be different clubs and kit, but there’s nothing stopping a couple playing a round together and this really appealed to me as an adult and as an activity, I could share with my other half.
Steps to taking up golf
The process has involved:
- Finding an accessible club to play
- Checking skill levels on the driving range
- Having lessons with a pro
- Setting goals
- Practise, practise, practise
The first step was finding a course accessible for beginners. For us this was Horsham Golf and Fitness Club as it has a great driving range set-up and a 3-par, 9 hole course. You also don’t need a membership to play. After a few evenings spent on the driving range with borrowed clubs and a session with my dad, we booked a joint lesson with one of the club’s pro golf instructors, Lee Wood.
I think this is where our interest really kicked up a notch as it was clear there was a lot of technical skill involved in each swing and a lot to work on. Immediately it became a process of learning, practising and concentration which we enjoyed and looked forward to for our summer evenings.
A great motivator for practise was a goal we set ourselves to play a short round with my dad by the end of summer, six months into taking up golf. We did this in September and it felt very rewarding to reach that milestone.
A part of reaching that milestone was having the right equipment. To play the 3-par course, and indeed most short courses, you need golf shoes, a golf bag, a set of short irons and a putter, as well as appropriate clothing with collared shirts.
If this sounds like a lot of equipment when you’re unsure if you’ll take to the sport, it was actually really affordable and there are lots of secondhand sets and bags available online, including via the Sussex Golf Facebook page. When you first start out it’s important to have decent clubs – perhaps graphite shafts – but they don’t need to be top of the range or overly expensive.
Progress and targets
Earlier this year I couldn’t hit a golf ball with an iron, even though I’d done this when I was younger. Now, after six months I can consistently hit 100 yards off the tee in more or less a straight line, can chip from the rough towards a target and have really improved my putting. On my best round at the 9-hole at Horsham Golf and Fitness, I hit a couple of birdies when my first shot went really well and also a couple of holes on par.
Over the next six months to a year, my focus is on improving my endurance so I can stay consistent over a round and not trail off on the last few holes, as well as to move on to the 18-hole Oaks Course at Horsham, incorporating a driver into my skillset. I see myself achieving this through first trying a 3-par course with greater yardage and having more lessons at the club.
Advice for other beginners
If you have an interest in golf, reach out to a friend or colleague you know who plays and see if you can borrow their clubs, or even if they will take you up to their club’s driving range to hit a bucket of balls. It’s a great way of seeing if that interest could become more before investing in the equipment and lessons.
As you learn, try to work towards a goal that motivates you to put in the hours and improve your swing. If you find it hard to make the time one week, it’s worth going online and watching tutorials on swing techniques and even flyovers of courses to get a feel of where you could play, just so you keep learning.
The main thing is to build up confidence and enjoy the process of learning. From my experience, the best way to do this is through booking lessons and getting professional advice.
If you’re just getting into golf you can contact Sussex Golf for beginners advice and information on where to play across Sussex. Follow us on Facebook here to become part of the supportive community and stay updated on opportunities in the sport. Keep in touch with Fran and progress on her Instagram page.