One hit is all it takes: Falling in love with golf again

The Scoop

Emily Stacey spent five years away from the game she played religiously through her teens. Then it all came flooding back

by Emily Stacey

By the end of 2018, amid the chaos of life in my late-20s, the struggle to find a sustainable work-life balance had finally begun to take its toll, I needed some kind of escape.

“You could always get back into ballet,” a friend suggested, though the memories of stressful Royal Academy exams were enough to put that idea to bed.

A colleague chimed in: “I used to run, that always helped me chill.”

Initially this sounded more promising – I even Googled the date of the next Surrey half marathon! – but somehow, even the post-run adrenaline buzz just wasn’t quite enough.

“What about falling in love with golf again?” an old friend asked, knowing that if ever I’ve had a buzz from a hobby, that was the game that did it for me.

Just the idea of getting back onto a golf course started giving me tingles. Good ones, at that.

“How easy would it be for you to find my Nike golf clubs in the next half hour?” I hastily ask my dad down the phone.

An awkward silence followed.

“Dad? You haven’t sold them, have you?”

I quickly head home, where I’m greeted with a Go Classic 7-iron. I’m not a brand snob but I’m not taking that to the
range.

After a bit of rummaging, I eventually find them. Now, where are my golf shoes?

Dad rolls his eyes, but I know I need to do this properly if I’m going to push myself into getting back on the golf course.

The first change I notice walking back into my old club is that the doors into the pro shop are now automatic. Golf … moving with the times?

The pro shop has also been transformed into a retail wonderland. You could lose yourself for hours in here. Everything from the latest Titleist clubs and FootJoy clothing to water bottles, cards, key rings are all on offer.

falling in love with golf

But it’s balls I’m here for. I try to hide my embarrassment as I ask what the smallest basket of balls is. £5 for 30. I remember when it was that much for 100.

“Hello you.” I remember that friendly voice. I turn around to see Mike, one of the legends of the pro shop, smiling back at me. He could not have been less surprised to see me back.

“I can’t believe you’re still here,” I tell him, delighted to have found a friendly face.

“Of course! I’m part of the furniture here – though it’s changed a bit since you were last down hasn’t it?”

The server interrupts. He’s found me on the system despite being five years away.

Mike tells me they’ve got fancy new ball dispensers, but I don’t ask how to work them. I’ll surely work it out.

One of the things that I loved about golf when I was a regular first time around was the atmosphere I found at my club. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and I was never happier during my teenage years than when I was hitting a ton of balls on the range before finishing homework in the clubhouse.

I never experienced an entitled clique; the members had always been warm and friendly. And the best thing about returning years later was the realisation that nothing had changed.

Everyone smiled and acknowledged me, which couldn’t have been more comforting since I was about to hit my first golf shot in half a decade.

As I unload my bucket onto the mat, the guy in front of me looks over and smiles. He clearly wants to see where my first shot goes. I’m just relieved that there’s no one behind me.

After a couple of practice swings, I roll the first ball onto the tee.

Suddenly I’m overwhelmed with a strange sense of calm. After years of golf lessons, I barely remember a thing, which is ideal right now since swing thoughts are meant to be the last thing on your mind pre-shot, right?.

I swing slowly, but just fast enough to make sure I don’t fluff it, and the familiar sound of iron on resin instantly sizzles through me. The calmness disappears.

The first shot goes barely 90 yards and the second swings off to the right.

falling in love with golf

But three, they say, is the magic number, and my third shot comes right out of the middle and soars dead straight over the 100-yard marker. That feeling! Oh how I’ve missed you. I can’t remember the last time I felt this alive.

OK, I didn’t get this feeling much with my first 30 balls back, but it was enough to make me wonder why I’d gone missing all these years.

“Back again?” asks my new friend in the pro shop.

“Just a quick one. Do you still offer roll-up lessons?”

He smiles.

“Yes, ladies are Monday mornings at 10.”

I sit in my car and a sense of relief overwhelms me. I look at the driving range in front of me.

It’s already in the diary.

Have you ever disappeared from the game only to rediscover your passion for golf later in life? Let Emily know in the comments below, or you can tweet her.

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