Looking for an exciting, challenging and totally chic new way to get fit? Golf can strengthen your core, improve muscle tone and get you walking for miles this summer, says golf-lover Bonnie Friend
As a child I was surrounded by golf. My dad has been an avid player since he was five and then went on to work with the PGA (those people that look after the big golf tournaments), and from the moment my brother and I could stand we had our own teeny-tiny golf clubs in our hands.
On that basis, you would have thought I would be reasonably good at it, but you’d be completely wrong. I was not even a little bit interested and although my father made heroic attempts to incorporate his babysitting duties with time on the practice greens, five minutes shovelling turf instead of making contact with the ball and a total inability to control the club would leave me dancing about in circles asking repeatedly when we could go home.
the motion of the swing is a wonderful workout for your core
As an adult I have increasingly learned to enjoy all things fitness oriented and in the process have rediscovered the glories of golf. I love the time spent walking around courses on summer afternoons playing golf with my brother. My ability has scarcely improved, but apparently it’s the taking part that counts and when you do take part, golf has some surprising health benefits.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GOLF
For starters, the average length of an 18-hole golf course is around four miles. Walking that kind of distance even if you don’t opt to carry your bag is a wonderful way to improve your fitness regardless of whether you’re playing golf. This is simply a way of walking that far without realizing it, and adding a bit of core strength fun into the mix.
‘Core?’ I hear you say. Oh yes, the motion of the swing is a wonderful workout for your core (and equally, working on your core will increase your success at the game, so it’s win/win). All that twisting and turning, using movements that you don’t generally get to do on a daily basis will help to improve muscle tone and endurance. Put that together with the aforementioned distance and you have a recipe for weight loss and reduced body fat, especially if you combine it with friends instead of sitting in the pub for the afternoon.
All that twisting and turning, using movements that you don’t generally get to on a daily basis will help to improve muscle tone and endurance
Furthermore, spending time in the open air, around the greenery and the wildlife does more than improve muscle strength – it’s a wonderful way to relax and get your thoughts in a row. Just speak to the naturopath at the spa Gleneagles, where the golf course is famed for its beauty. She once told me that research shows that after an operation, people with a view of the green fields and trees recover more quickly than those staring at four walls, such is the power of the great outdoors.
at the spa Gleneagles, the golf course is famed for its beauty
She’s also got some pretty wonderful advice when it comes to snacks to take around the golf course. Did you know that depleted blood sugar levels can affect your motor skills and eyesight, thus impacting on you being the best golfer you can be? (I knew perpetually filling my pockets with Brazil nuts and dark chocolate would pay off one day!) That’s advice that isn’t just going to be useful on the course but for general health and daily life as well.
I think one of the things that can put people off golf is that it seems rather inaccessible, but if you know where to go or who to talk to then it all becomes extremely enjoyable.
KIT AND ADVICE
For advice on equipment I highly recommend talking to the team at Golfsupport – an online golf supplier with pros behind the scenes who can tell you what you actually need to get going. It no doubt goes without saying that the basics are balls and clubs. Titleist is amongst the most popular brands and its products, particularly the famed Vokey wedges are used by the pros, so if you want to channel your inner McIlroy then you know where to start. Nike are also famed for making you look the part between holes if nothing else, and while I personally am something of a fair weather golfer, if you do get the bug and fancy playing when the weather is a little less reliable, a good set of waterproofs will fast become your best friend.
you have a recipe for weight loss and reduced body fat
WHERE TO PLAY
In terms of where to go, it depends what you want to get out of it. Most courses have pros on site who you can book lessons with and by way of developing a good technique and avoiding injury, it’s an investment I recommend you make. Plus, if you can see progress then you will be more likely to enjoy it, and at the same time you can be brought up to speed on the etiquette of the game, which is seriously worthwhile as there are a certain number of manners that should be observed. The Belfry is known for having wonderful coaching opportunities, as is Celtic Manor.
As already mentioned, if you want to combine an incredible golf course with some world-class health and wellbeing advice then you could do worse than heading to Gleneagles (especially if you’re an expert) or for anyone just wanting to dip their toe into the golfing arena, Grayshott Spa Hotel in Surrey has a gentle little nine hole course in the midst of its famed health Mecca.
In fact, there are a number of spas around the UK that are within the grounds of golf courses, which particularly for those who are not all about the sport, is a lovely introduction to the game, while for seasoned pros it’s also a good way to support your game as well.
Ultimately, what I have found is that you don’t actually need to be a Tiger Woods himself to have a go at golf and to enjoy it. You don’t even need to work for a bank in the city and call it a ‘client meeting’. Walking around a course in the summer sun, learning a new skill, strengthening that core, and getting out in the fresh air are all part of the joy of golf, and it’s a wonderful way to do all of those things whilst enjoying time with friends. What could possibly be better?
Bonnie Friend is the editor of spabreaks.com
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.