GIVE GOLF A GO
More people are taking up the game of golf because it has so many benefits, writes Tracy Hargreaves
If you’re looking to take up a new sport, you might be pleasantly surprised in how good golf is for you. The health benefits of golf are far greater than most of us think and may have a bigger impact on our general wellbeing, both physically and mentally. It’s also a sport which can be played by all age groups so is a good one to encourage exercise.
Any exercise that gets the blood pumping round your heart, will increase your heart rate and blood flow and that includes walking, carrying your golf bag and swinging, not to mention a game round an 18-hole golf course and you will be walking in excess of 10,000 steps. You will also be outside, keeping your vitamin D levels topped up through exposure of natural daylight, which in turn boosts our mood. Plus, the pleasure of walking in fresh air can reduce stress and improve our sleep, as well as keep our weight down.
The challenge of each individual course means our brain is constantly working. Being able to focus on the task at hand means the mind is engaged and less likely to drift to negative or stressful thoughts. It also requires a tremendous amount of concentration – keeping an eye on where the hole is in relation to the ball, the amount of force required to hit the ball and getting the trajectory right to score that elusive hole in one. It’s also a low-impact activity, therefore it’s attractive as players can burn calories with the low risk of injury. So, what’s not to like about a game of golf!
In the UK we are lucky to have some of the finest golf courses, particularly in Scotland. St Andrews Old Links in Fife, Scotland, sits among some of the most spectacular scenery in the British Isles. It is probable that golf was played here back in the 12th century and as such the old course is the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world. The first ever 18-hole course was constructed at St Andrews in 1764, establishing the now recognised standard for the game.
With most other ball games, such as tennis, football and squash, the court or pitch is the same look and size, it’s just the venue that changes, whereas with golf every course is different, each with its own challenges.
A links is the oldest style of golf course and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes. In Lancashire we have several links courses, such as St Annes Old Links and Southport and Ainsdale as we are close to the sea.
Travel inland and there’s a plethora of golf clubs in Lancashire, which range in difficulty. Penwortham Golf Club, Preston Golf Club, Shaw Hill and Garstang are just a few that offer players pretty much all year-round golf on beautiful parkland courses, with the opportunity to get involved in local tournaments.
With the major championship tournament, the Masters coming up in April, it often spurs people on to try the game and with the weather hopefully taking a turn for the better, what excuse do you need to get out there.
Many clubs will offer taster games or open days, where you can go along and have a go and see if it’s for you before joining up. Go and have a look around and chat to the members. Each club will have its own feel so it’s important it’s right for you. Most clubs have a good social side so if this is also something you are looking for, see what events they hold or opportunities to get involved, particularly if you want to encourage your children to take up the sport, what family activities do they do.
Golf is no longer a game seen for the more mature male player, it’s a game everyone can play. It’s not just for fun but it is also good for our health. Next time you fancy trying something new, why not give golf a go. You might be pleasantly surprised.