In honour of Women and Girl’s Golf Week, our Business Analyst Lesley Williams takes an honest look at the highs and lows of getting into golf. Follow her journey from 32-handicapper to Lady Captain of Woodenbridge Golf Club in Ireland’s Co. Wicklow with a few bumps and bruises (some literal, some figurative) along the way.
- 1965 – Golf tries to discourage me!
Watching my brother playing golf with his friends in our back garden (with plastic clubs and balls), I was hit on the head with a ball. An inch further to the left and I wouldn’t be here! I was only 15 months old! Of course, I don’t remember the incident, but I still have the scar today.
- 1970 – I’m encouraged
Through my dad’s passion for golf, my brother and I used to play with him in the back garden. Dad had manicured the grass in the vain hope he could create a putting green – it never quite got there. Those plastic clubs and balls were resurrected, and we graduated from putting to chipping. Golf has been in the fabric of my life ever since.
- 1977 – “Too boring”
In my early teens I remember thinking how boring the game of golf was. I thought “I’m not playing until I’m old”. I remember dinners in the golf club where there were so many rules it would stifle any child. Truthfully, I moved away from golf because of other sports (badminton and hockey), piano, school exams, discos and just normal teenager stuff!
- 1995 – A breath of fresh air
In my late twenties, living in London, I found that my activities were mostly indoors, and I needed to do something that got me out into the fresh air. I started going up to my local pay and play club on a Friday night to play on my own, then progressed to joining up with other people. I was delighted as my game improved from hitting the odd good shot to regularly hitting good shots and, hey presto, I was addicted. That’s the thing about golf – you either love it or it’s not for you. I LOVE IT!
- 1996 – A harsh lesson learned
I joined that club in London and was a member for a couple of years. I learned so much about the rules and etiquette of golf in those first few years:
- I lost the President’s prize because I didn’t sign my card. A hard lesson but I’ll never do it again.
- I learnt the rule about outside interference the hard way too when we witnessed my ball being taken off the fairway by a dog.
- But what I learned most is that golf is both competitive and friendly in equal measure, and that’s what I love about it.
- 1997 – Homeward bound
I returned to Ireland and joined Woodenbridge Golf Club in Arklow and I’ve been there ever since. It is a wonderful place, surrounded by woods with the Avoca and Aughrim rivers meeting in the middle of the course – tranquil, peaceful and beautiful. That first year in Woodenbridge was exceptional. My handicap reduced from 32 to 22 and I won the Lady Captain’s prize.
- 2018 – Still going strong
I’m still playing, still winning prizes and still having fun. My handicap is down to 13, I’ve represented my club at several levels – Intermediate Cup, Junior Cup, Senior Cup, Cullen Cup (winner twice), Irish Mixed Foursomes. I’ve been on the ladies’ committee and board of management and had the honour of being Lady Captain in 2012.
Playing golf has found me a couple of jobs, a husband, a wheelbarrow of frustration, a delight of friendships and an ocean of joy.
This game is, in equal measure, frustrating and fantastic – that chip shot you shank but the next time you hole, that putt you leave millimetres short and the one you sink to win a match, the drive that bounces out of bounds and the one that keeps on running. Before you start a game you never know what you’re going to get, regardless of the amount of practice you’ve put in. But oh, the delight, when it all comes together and you have the round of your life… until the next time!