“Golf gives me the perfect excuse to be outside”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick December 7, 2023 12:49

A woman, who retired just before the pandemic hit, became one of 1.9 million people in the UK to take up golf in the last four years. Three years on, and partly thanks to her local club’s academy scheme, her handicap has improved by 14 shots and her social life is thriving.

A golf enthusiast who first learnt to play at her local course during the Covid-19 pandemic is now encouraging others, particularly those in, or approaching, retirement, to take up the game.

Lesley O’Doherty opted for life on the fairway following her retirement three years ago and is now a fully-fledged member at Royal Ascot Golf Club in Berkshire where she plays in tournaments and is part of the club’s thriving social scene.

Her new-found passion was facilitated by the course’s ‘Golf Academy Scheme’, which is managed by PGA professional Rob Daw.

Designed for players of all abilities and experiences, the academy targets individuals looking to take their first steps in golf and existing players wishing to hone their skills via group lessons, one-on-one sessions and integrating into the club’s buddy scheme.

Now playing off a handicap 14 shots lower than when she first started, Lesley hopes to encourage a new generation of golfers to experience the sport’s health and social benefits.

“Golf has always interested myself and I had played some par-three courses years ago with my husband,” said Lesley. “But I started at Royal Ascot as a complete novice with very little knowledge or skill of the game.

“Golf is a social sport, so joining alone with no experience might seem a bit daunting. But I was made very welcome and with Rob’s support the process of developing my skills on the course was very enjoyable.

“The social aspect is really important. I’ve found golf to be a great way to meet new, like-minded people who I can play with in a relaxed environment that keeps me active and in the outdoors.”

Lesley added: “People value their mental and physical wellbeing differently now compared to before the outbreak of Covid-19.

“Golf gives me the perfect excuse to be outside, get moving and integrate with others in a world where it can be so easy to live in your own bubble. I couldn’t recommend taking up golf generally enough.

“It’s been a great experience for me and can hopefully encourage others to engage with the sport.”

Rob Daw added: “Lesley’s story epitomises how golf can be enjoyed by people of all ages, experiences and even those without a prior touchpoint to the sport.

“Our academy was established with the primary purpose of engaging new players and helping people develop their skills on the course. We’re pleased to see Lesley has followed this pathway and look forward to following her progress.”


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick December 7, 2023 12:49
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