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Recent Golf Enthusiast Encourages Others to Join Her

By: Golfshake Editor | Wed 06 Sep 2023

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, golf experienced an unprecedented boom of interest and participation as players new and old headed to their nearest course to enjoy a welcome respite from the reality of life in lockdown.

Lesley O’Doherty was among those newfound golfers who took to the ancient game following her retirement three years ago. She is now a fully-engaged member at Royal Ascot Golf Club in Berkshire and encourages others to follow in her footsteps and take up the sport.

Now playing in tournaments and enjoying being part of the bustling social scene at the club, Lesley's passion was further developed by the venue's Golf Academy Scheme, which is managed by PGA Professional Rob Daw.

Designed for players of all abilities, the Academy targets individuals looking to take their first steps in golf in addition to existing players wishing to hone their skills via group lessons, one-on-one sessions and integrating into the club’s buddy scheme.

Now playing off a handicap 14 shots lower than when she first started, Lesley hopes to be part of a new generation of golfers to benefit from the sport’s numerous health and social benefits.

“Golf has always interested myself and I had played some par-three courses years ago with my husband,” said Lesley. “But I started at Royal Ascot as a complete novice with very little knowledge or skill of the game.

“Golf is a social sport, so joining alone with no experience might seem a bit daunting. But I was made very welcome and with Rob’s support the process of developing my skills on the course was very enjoyable.

“The social aspect is really important. I’ve found golf to be a great way to meet new, likeminded, people who I can play with in a relaxed environment that keeps me active and in the outdoors.”

Golf Enthusiast

Data from The R&A with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf has revealed golf participation across the UK rose to 5.6 million in 2022. This figure represents the second highest number of players on record and is an increase of 1.9 million people since 2019.

In addition, 20% of adult players were female last year compared to just 15% in 2019, while research by The R&A revealed the average golfer lives five years longer than non-golfers with a typical 18-hole round burning 2,000 calories.

Lesley added: “People value their mental and physical wellbeing differently now compared to before the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Golf gives me the perfect excuse to be outside, get moving and integrate with others in a world where it can be so easy to live in your own bubble. I couldn’t recommend Royal Ascot Golf Club’s Academy scheme and taking up golf generally enough.

“It’s been a great experience for me and can hopefully encourage others to engage with the sport.”

Royal Ascot Golf Club PGA Professional Rob Daw commented: “Lesley’s story epitomises how golf can be enjoyed by people of all ages, experiences and even those without a prior touchpoint to the sport.

“Our Academy was established with the primary purpose of engaging new players and helping people develop their skills on the course. We’re pleased to see Lesley has followed this pathway and look forward to following her progress.”

Founded in 1887, Royal Ascot Golf Club was granted Royal status by Queen Victoria and is set in 150 acres of wooded Crown land off Winkfield Road and adjacent to the world-famous racecourse.

Further information about the course’s Academy is available via www.royalascotgolfclub.co.uk.

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