Golf for wellbeing
Farleigh Golf Club
Golfing newbie Tina Lofthouse tries out the course at Surrey’s Farleigh…
When lockdown restrictions were eased back in early summer, one of the first things that was allowed to re-open was golf. The perfect socially-distanced sport, there’s no contact and you’re out in the fresh air. So, perhaps not surprisingly, golf has seen a big upswing in those taking up the pastime.
Given it can also burn up to 350 calories an hour, I was keen to give it a try. Grabbing an experienced golfing buddy to join me, we headed to Farleigh Golf Club in the heart of the North Surrey Downs.
There’s some serious golfing to be had at Farleigh. A regular host of national PGA tournaments, it offers three nine-hole courses, which can be played as 9, 18 or 27 holes across its 350 acres. But, until recently, I wouldn’t have had a clue what any of that meant. My reason for going was that it also prides itself on being informal and welcoming and so sounded like the perfect spot for the newbie.
As we drove up to the club through the stunning grounds (you can even see London’s landmarks in the distance), I was given a quick rundown of some of the basics from my golfing buddy. I was concerned about the etiquette involved. To my mind, golf was something shrouded in mystery. Business deals are done, dress codes adhered to, and it’s all taken very, very seriously.
My friend laughed – her 11-year-old plays and has done since he was tiny. As for etiquette, just keep an eye on where the group in front and behind of you are so you’re not crashing in while someone is completing their hole, or, likewise, you’re not holding up another group. And it’s not the place for shouting and running around. Silence is golden when someone is taking a shot. Most of it is just about being considerate. The dress code varies from club to club so check in advance as well as what shoes they require.
We arrived at the clubhouse and the welcoming atmosphere was immediately evident, from both staff and the members themselves. Everyone was so cheerful. Golf must do that to a person. A day out in pleasing surrounding with nothing else to focus on is a nice proposition.
First things first, a quick explanation of the course and a map. The club is huge. Would we like a golf buggy? How could we say no. I’d always wanted a go in one of those things. And if it rained, we would at least have some shelter. Okay, so the promise of burning those 350 calories was dwindling.
Clubs on board, we set off to the first hole and my pal showed me the ropes (incidentally, if you don’t have such a friend, you can book a lesson) and explained the different sorts of clubs you might need for each shot. If you want to get very involved, then you’ll need to spend some time working out all kinds of calculations for your shot. I passed on that – I’d be happy if I just hit the ball.
And to my utter surprise – I did send it satisfyingly in the right direction with a good old thwack. Some of my shots went wide of the mark, others sailed merrily closer to where we needed to be. I was loving getting the hang of it. My friend recommends golf for mindfulness – she wasn’t wrong and it really does take your mind off your daily stresses.
The time passed so quickly as we made our way around the course, hopping in and out of the buggy (god, those things are fun) and even a spell of rain didn’t dampen our spirits. The ninth hole and the clubhouse in sight, we finished on a high.
Hungry after all our efforts, we booked in for afternoon tea in the restaurant. It’s a sleek modern space with huge windows overlooking the course. Slightly aching (the game using muscles I really don’t work out), it was lovely to sit and watch the golfers outside while tucking in to a three-tiered feast of sandwiches, scones and cakes. There’s not the fancy patisserie here – just excellent examples of all the teatime favourites in miniature. The scones were incredible – freshly out of the oven, and the carrot cake was so light and delicious.
Driving back home, we were already plotting when we could do this again. It really is an awesome way to spend a day. My swing would make a pro blush and I’m not sure the maths side of my brain will ever be up to the more technical aspects, but I’ll be on for trying. And, as if to prove just how egalitarian it can be, there’s even a ‘balls and bubbles’ session where there’s no dress code, you can socialise with pals, hit a few balls and enjoy a glass of bubbly.
Green fee rates start at £15.
Afternoon tea £21 per person. Special offer on afternoon tea until 30th November
£15 on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
FarleighFLEX offers flexible membership. Flexi 1: Play up to 30+ rounds of golf from £310. Flexi 2: Play up to 60+ rounds of golf from £630
The Farleigh Academy Membership – get the most out of your game, whether you’re a beginner learning the ropes or are more experienced and trying to get your handicap down. Spend time on the range honing your skills, benefit from expert tuition from PGA professionals and put your skills to the test. Academy level one: One twilight round a month (Monday to Sunday), £25 range credit, Six 30-minute lessons with a PGA professional. £329.
Academy level two: Unlimited twilight golf (Sunday to Friday), £50 range credit, Six 30-minute lessons with a PGA professional. £579 (upgrade to 12 lessons for £749 a year). Academy level three: Unlimited twilight golf (Monday to Sunday), £75 range credit, Six 30-minute lessons with a PGA professional. £679 (upgrade to 12 lessons for £849 a year).
Balls & Bubbles £9 per session.
Could polo be more your thing? We put it to the test at Ham Polo Club.