Cameron Diaz compared playing golf to playing crack cocaine and Celine Dion has her own golf club – a sport once assigned to men in salmon pants is now appealing to more 30- and 40-something women. Anna Magee tried it, with some pampering on the side
‘Do you have control issues?’ asked my golfing instructor, Nicholas Sharratt. We were on the nine-hole golf course at Grayshott Spa in Surrey, one of the country’s most highly regarded spas for pampering, clean food and stunning countryside. I was learning to play golf.
It was my first time on a golf course. Just ten minutes in and I was feeling deep frustration at the limitations of my swing – missing the ball altogether mostly – and I wanted so much to be good at it. But according to Nick – who teaches golf at Grayshott and throughout the Surrey to everyone from bankers to women in their 60s – you can tell a lot about a person by their golf swing.
‘You get these stressed out bankers trying to flog the ball and make it do what they want, but golf doesn’t work that way,’ Nick said. ‘You have to let go and relax to get the best hit,’ he explained, adding that people’s swings often reflected their approaches to life. Mine had my control issues written all over it. I whacked the ball with force from my right arm instead of relaxing and letting the tilt and rotation in my body do the work as Nick advised. Kind of how I approach life, often unable to relax and let it wash over me – I always have to be doing, doing, doing. My husband Kevin’s swing on the other hand is ‘laid back and a little 70s’ Nick said, just like Kevin is in real life.
Having never been a golfing type, I’d interviewed Sarah Stirk, a Sky Sports Golf presenter two weeks before. Stirk is convinced more women are getting into golf and her evangelism about golf was catchy. For her an an almost spiritual game that at once frustrates and calms her and all that green always helped clear her head. I went online to what was then the freshly launched Net-a-Sporter and spotted the most utterly gorgeous golfing dress (no ugly visors and polo shirts in sight) and that cinched it for me, maybe golf was the next big thing for women’s activity.
Despite the fact that the afternoon was a stormy one and we played under a shelter between flashes of sunlight I was surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed something that I thought was only for old men with weather-beaten faces in salmon pants. It had everything I loved: fresh air, divine green space for miles, a little banter (not much, I needed to concentrate on nailing this thing) and a good dose of competition. I quite liked too that the rules are kind of complicated though not ridiculous like cricket. It meant that by the time I tried to comprehend what was happening while also thinking about all the different things my body had to do to perfect that swing – relax the upper body, slightly bend the knees, feet shoulder-width apart, hands around the club in a special grip (front hand at the top and a special finger action I can’t quite remember) – I had no brain space to think about my workload or other worries. It could be why Sarah Stirk and other golfers have referred to as ‘quite zen’ and why golfing fab Cameron Diaz has likened the experience of playing it to crack cocaine.
Lunch was a generous buffet of clean but gourmet fare: delicious broccoli soup starter with raw vegetable salads every which way, perfectly roasted fennel, cold organic meat cuts and a spinach and beetroot frittata along with a generous wine list.
The pool and hydrotherapy area was quiet and peopled by only a handful of guests. It was a cocoon of old-school relaxation with sauna and steam rooms as well as heated pools, one inside and one outside flanked by huge elm trees overlooking the golf course.
After my swim as Kevin snoozed, I had an Indian Head Massage. My therapist Donat, a French aromatherapist used juniper, lemongrass and frankincense oil in a base of almond to massage my scalp. Indian Head Massages aren’t what you might expect of a head massage. Instead of the usual kneading you get at the hairdresser’s, it uses a series of hair pulling, head scratching, finger-tapping and supported neck stretching in all directions. It was clarifying and stimulating at once; a bit like having my head replaced and renewed , I felt the tension lift like steam off a hot pot. It was topped with a rose and evening primrose oil face massage that further woke up my spirit.
Going to a spa for a golfing experience was kind of a win-win. It meant I could appear to be selflessly having a weekend away somewhere we could play a game my husband has loved for years (this meant that it seemed I was doing it for him – or is that transparent?). But it also ensured that if I got bored on the golf course, I could quite easily retreat to the safety and relative inactivity of the poolside. Especially if your partner loves golf, I suggest you selflessly book yourself a golf and spa weekend sometime soon too. For him, of course.
A two night Spa Break stay at Grayshott starts from £455 per person for a double room (based on there being double occupancy). Indian head massage costs £35.Golf lessons cost £70. Book online here. Nicholas Sharratt can be contacted for golf lessons at thebestgolfcoachintheuk.co.uk. The Ryder Cup runs from September 25th – 28th.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.