My first year as a golfer (or attempting to be)

The Scoop

Harriet Shephard reflects on her golfing achievements of 2017, including how it felt to make her first par and why she's not getting on with winter golf

2017 was my first full year of playing golf. Or at least trying to get vaguely better at this obscure game.

It was a year of many first experiences and numerous humiliations. But I survived, and actually enjoyed attempting to play this bizarre game.

This was the year I got my first set of clubs, made my first par, and tried to pull off looking like a real golfer on a full-size course.

It’s certainly been an experience.

The most notable milestones can be broken down to the following…

I got my own clubs, custom fitted and everything

I was excited to get my own clubs. Not least because it meant I could carry them around and feel like a proper golfer. Even if that illusion was shattered the moment I started playing.

I was fitted at the Ping headquarters in Gainsborough.

It was the coldest day, but I actually managed to hit the ball surprisingly well and I came away with some lovely Ping G Les.

Having my own clubs helped enormously. Like how new gym clothes make you suddenly excited to hit the treadmill, having some matching clubs made me want to actually learn how to play properly.

The fact that they were fitted to me obviously made things easier, and not having to borrow a club every time I went to the range was a complete joy.

I played a proper course

Before 2017, I had only attempted a few holes on a 9-hole par-3 course.

But once the evenings started getting light again, I headed out on to the course with PGA pro Ryan Rastall during my lessons at Howley Hall Golf Club.

Here I discovered that full-size courses are insanely long and difficult, but ultimately quite pretty and way more fun than standing at the range.

I also discovered that on a nice sunny day, heading to the course is a great way to spend your lunch break or even a Saturday morning. I was still almost consistently terrible, but it still felt like playing golf for real.

I played golf abroad

Even though I had read so much about all the fabulous golf resorts that are scattered across the world, I was still a bit baffled by the idea of travelling to an exotic destination JUST to play golf.

I love golf. I love playing it. But if I go somewhere like Sicily, I want to be doing other things?

But, while on a press trip to Sicily, I started to understand the appeal of a golfing holiday.

I still wouldn’t decide to spend play 36 holes a day or anything crazy like that, but in a place that has a warm climate and lovely scenery, it’s definitely a nice way to spend some of your time.

I actually made par

Surprisingly, the best part of playing golf in Sicily wasn’t getting a slight tan or eating lots of pasta – although that was good too.

This was the place where I actually made par. For the first time. Just like a real golfers do!

It seemed to happen quite by accident. I somehow made it to the green with remarkable ease, and after making my usual shaky attempt at a putt the ball remarkably dropped into the hole.

I was a bit disappointed that a fanfare didn’t immediately go off, but still it felt brilliant.

Of course I couldn’t replicate this success on the next hole, but it still gave me a nice confidence boost.

I tried and failed at winter golf (current situation)

After hearing tales of beautiful frosty mornings, peaceful courses and pleasant hours reliving tales of a tremendous round by a roaring fire, I was all set to try and enjoy winter golf.

However, this didn’t really last much longer than October.

The big problem is that winter golf involves being very, very cold. Obviously. Not that this really needs to be stated.

However, I didn’t realise just how cold and fed-up I would be until I tried it.

I couldn’t stop shivering or move my frozen fingers. In summary, I wasn’t happy at all.

All the things I had liked about golf: being out in the sunshine, getting fresh air, enjoying some nice countryside, all seemed to have vanished.

So I have decided that the hoards of golfers who choose to stash their clubs away over the winter are actually on to something.

Who wants to spend hours searching for a small ball in a frozen field? All the while trying to convince yourself that you’re having a good time and that you down mind having freezing, soggy feet.

I’ve decided that I don’t think I do.

So until it starts warming up, I’m going to stick to getting my exercise in the warm and comforting gym.

After all, my swish G Les aren’t going anywhere. There’s plenty of time to achieve my golfing ambitions in 2018.

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