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When it comes to golf, St Andrews is the oldest swinger in town. Take the rough with the smooth and you’ve a weekend par excellence. Words: Maureen Ellis
atherine /.eta Jones was the inspiration behind it. She looked so effortless. elegant even. strolling around the course in pastel shades. .\'o sweat was to be seen. there was no hideously tight lycra on display. This is a truly ‘ladylike‘ sport and it‘s a heinous crime that more women don't play golf.
I’ve heard the cliches about golf -— it‘s a man‘s game. it's a waste of a perfectly good walk only it looked quite glamorous and. dare I say. easy: almost like croquet but with a little added oomph. I wanted to try it.
If you want to learn squash you don’t turn up at your local sports centre and enter a competition. There‘s techniques to learn and someone needs to show you the basics. I reckon that‘s what puts most women off golf ~ you don‘t play it in an isolated booth. If you‘re slow on the course you hold up everyone behind you. (iolting ranges are a little less daunting. but it‘s not technically playing golf; you‘re playing shots.
When I heard the word ‘spa‘ mentioned within nanoseconds of ‘golf and resort l was sold. Sad as it seems. there are bundles of golf resorts around Scotland that offer golf for the enthusiast and spa treatments for his little woman. A limited berspective but one not to be sniffed at. (‘ombine the best of all worlds golf tuition. a spa and swanky five star luxury to boot
and you've got a recipe for a perfect weekend away.
‘\\'a« that a practice swing'.” asked Doug. instructor of the morning's tuition. We‘d been out on the driving range in the mist for a little under an hour. It didn’t appear to be raining but the water was dripping from my hair and seeping into my highly unsuitable clothes. I'd been taught grip (the foundation of a good swing): stance (similarly important to the swing): and the swing itself (very difficult to perfect and alien to every movement my body wanted to make).
They say practice makes perfect. In this instance. practice makes you more accttstomed to the embarrassment you felt since the last time you swung and missed.
But then. ama/ingly. a breakthrough. Allowed on the course in one of the hotel‘s legion of golf buggies. which.
120 THE LIST '-; ' '(“'
incidentally. was even more fun than it looks (l)i(‘aprio eat your heatt out! ). I ventured out on the range alone. After a few duffers which I alternately missed. bobbled or sliced (went right). I tried leaning fonyard a little more. and swoosh — a huge piece of earth flew up at my face. the tee flew backwards and the ball was nowhere to be seen. l'ntil it landed about 75 yards away. A proper shot. Result.
OK. so it was only a small step. but it felt significant. The mist had lifted. the outlook looked promising. Following the excitement of hitting the ball several times in a row. I retired to the hotel's spa for a well-earned treatment. The massage didn‘t quite live up to expectations. Perhaps I just couldn‘t relax now that I‘d got into the swing of playing golf. (Admittedly I couldn't yet judge how far the ball would go. but the fact it was going anywhere was progress). Whatever the reason. the golf proved more enjoyable than the spa.
Our hotel. the St Andrews Bay. was a five minute taxi ride from the centre of St Andrews. The nightlife was adequate. if quieter than expected. There are no nightclubs in the town. but the (iin House. the Vic and Ma Bells (Prince Will‘s local) are cosy enough and all licensed till lam.
Back on the course the next morning. I was not prepared for the pain. l‘ar from being hangover-induced. every muscle in my body ached and my hands were blistered. (ioll‘? Ladylike'.’ What was I thinking'.’ The only bonus was that the stance was easier to achieve: standing straight just wasn‘t an option.
Progress continued like a dream. llarder shots followed softer shots. at longer club followed shorter clubs: each altering the trajectory and length of the shot. This was fun. Highly unglamorous. cold. wet and slightly painful fun. but fun nonetheless. But three months on. one thing still baffles me: why does the tee lly backwards‘.’ Answers on a scorecard.
More details at www.visitscotland.com/golf
In this instance, practice makes you more accustomed to feeling embarrassed