• Stephanie Hammond

I'm a Golfer

I’m a walker, a hiker, an overnight tramper. This photo was taken on a tramp a few years ago. I’m in my element, I'm sure you can tell, even in the rain.

It’s my favourite physical activity - all forms of walking. Once, about 20 years ago, I went on the golf course with some friends just to see what the game was like and walk around with them.

I was bored! I honestly couldn’t see what it was that they saw in this game. Hit a ball, lose it in the bushes, spend ages finding it, hit it again, do the same thing over again. No siree! This was not for me!

Then I met my husband when we were both around retirement age. We didn’t have many activities in common. He played bridge and golf. I did neither. So when I retired first, I decided I’d learn to play bridge so we’d have something social to do together. But it was too sedentary for me. And it was such a complicated game, I gave up.

I caught an advertisement for golf lessons and decided I’d give that a go. I enrolled and borrowed his clubs and went along. A wonderful thing happened. The club was not signposted very well and once I’d found the entrance I saw another woman waving at me. She was a bit lost and asked if I knew where the club was. So we arrived together. And that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with Doris. We both were retired and a similar age. Better still, we both had the same sense of humour.

That was day one of the lessons. Meeting Doris had put me in a relaxed mood. This was going to go better than the bridge lessons, I could tell. If nothing else, I’d made a new friend.

The instructor was a very experienced coach and explained the intricacies of basics well. How to hold the club (not stick!) how to stand and how to swing. He was very impressed that I’d never golfed before. Much easier to teach me, he said, because I had no bad habits he’d have to correct. That relaxed me even more.

Each week I got better at hitting straight. I learned how to face the ball and hit it so it went where I wanted it to go. And soon Doris and I were practising together, walking around the course hitting golf balls as we went.

It was recommended to us that we join the 9 hole ladies group and start to play with others. That would be the best way to learn and improve. We were very hesitant and decided to keep to our own sessions for a while longer. And we looked around for a course. We stumbled on Taieri Lakes, a lovely golf course not too far from my place and over the hill from hers. Soon we’d joined the club and the group of 9 holers.

This was an amazingly supportive and fun group of ladies. Before we’d even got our handicap (which would come after we’d put in so many score cards) we were invited to attend our first tournament. This we didn’t want to do - we could hardly play! My score for 9 holes was over 100! But they didn’t care. It was all for fun, they said. And we’d meet lots of lovely people and get to play on a different course. So we went.

I’ll always be grateful for that invitation, and that I accepted it. I saw how much fun golf could be. It wasn’t about competition. It wasn’t even about exercise. Although those elements are and were certainly there. It was more about getting out and about, about being social. And I learned golf was a mental game. My own mental game.

And now I had a common interest with my husband. What started out as learning a skill to share in my husband’s interest ended up being an activity that I love. It’s as much my interest as it is my husband’s. I’m grateful for that instructor whose voice I still hear when I need to come back to the basics. I don’t hit far but I hit straight. My handicap is still high but my overall score has dropped to the 60s. I still play 9 holes, with a different group of ladies in a different part of the country. I still go to tournaments, encouraging others to come too for the fun and social interaction. And I often win a prize in my division. Even a couple of trophies!

I am so glad I wanted to have something to do with my husband when he retires. He’s still not retired. We play together sometimes and it’s fun. It’s a lovely common interest. But in the meantime, nearly every Wednesday you’ll find me on the golf course with the 9 hole ladies laughing and hitting and walking, taking in the air, listening to the birdsong, and sharing snippets of our daily lives.

Yes, I’m a Golfer.

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