I say, it’s a hole in one for Muddy!
Already this year is panning out in unexpected ways for me. My New Year’s Resolution has been to ‘live smart’ as opposed to my previous outlook which was pretty much full pelt in work, boozing most nights (it’s er, part of the creative writing process) and going out a lot.
This lifestyle, though undeniably fun has meant that the one thing I haven’t had time for is time for myself – to carve a space where I can do the good stuff – exercise, cuddle my kids on the sofa, read, cook meals from scratch (because Lord knows those beans on toast won’t cook themselves), see a mate for a coffee. Stuff I would have regarded as ‘selfish time’ or indulgent before Christmas but that I now realise is ‘vital time’ if I’m to fend off facial twitching and a constant moany refrain of being too ‘busy’ all the goddam time.
Is this ringing a bell with you too??!
Anyway, the upshot is this. Last week I pushed myself out of my adrenalin-fuelled comfort zone and into a relaxing morning yoga class (Philippa Stevens since you asked, she’s fantastic). I’m no yogi and for me once a week will do it, but my god it felt good to stop and stretttcch. So I’m going to stick with it. Tick number one.
And today I tried golf for the first time – hey, stop the sniggering, it was awesome!
Admittedly it was at the 27 hole Stoke Park Championship course in South Bucks has one of the best parkland courses in the world so maybe the odds of having a good time were substantially raised. It definitely tickled the Muddy sense of humour to be playing where James Bond had his golfing ‘duel’ in Goldfinger too (you can just see the Stoke Park mansion in the background on the right in the film still below).
Anyhoo, let’s call a club a spade by saying that, until today, golf was one sport I’ve never had much interest in – all those men in Pringle jumpers driving like lunatics in buggies talking about share prices and banning women from the bar in case they’re overwhelmed by oestrogen and melt.
But actually there’s been a massive surge in interest in women’s golf in the last year or two with This Girl Golfs campaigns, and a raft of young, female, super-talented championship winning golfers emerging.
Around Bucks and Oxon there are nearly more golf courses than pubs, so choice isn’t a problem, but I’d recommend Stoke Park in flash based on my experience there, because the facilities are awesome with not only the usual putting green, driving range, and short game area bit alsp a state-of-the-art indoor swing studio where swings can be viewed immediately on the plasma screens. Basically you go into a large room, the metal grill raises and suddenly you’re looking out on the golf course (but protected from the elements) and you’re then free to whack a whole load of balls and then review how goddam terrible your golf technique is.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Here, look quick before your mum comes back. Technique so rigid its looks like I’ve put a golf club where the sun don’t shine but actually *preen* I did hit that golf ball straight, true and hiiiiiigh into the sky.
Stoke Park is a very progressive golf club, and it actively encourages female golfers with special Ladies Only golf clinics, and a Ladies Open in July (no hackers mind, it’s a maximum handicap of 20), and there’s a fantastic junior academy programme too, if you want to encourage your kids to look down at the putting green rather than at their electronica for a change.
Prices? Well, I cannae lie, the price of full 7 day golf membership at Stoke Park is a total buttock-clencher (over £3k for all you millionaires out there), but the good news is that this world-class course actually accepts visitors, so you go and play for a green fee of £85 through the winter Monday to Friday and £160 through the summer. You can also get group coaching as a non-member for £20 per session which is a bit of a steal. If you end up really getting the golf bug, there’s an Academy membership for new members over 9 holes – slightly shorter in distance and not as busy as the main course – that’s a more manageable £1350 per year.
For those too far away to hack up the Stoke Park turf but fancy annihilating a different course, This Girl Golfs is a good place to start, or just call up your nearest golf club and see if the person at the other end of the line sounds robot or human. And if you’re still not convinced that golf might actually be your ‘thing’, bear this in mind people – a round of golf gets you outdoors in the fresh air for hours, burns at least 900 calories and makes you take than 10,000 steps or 4-5miles (woo hoo for the pedometer count!), Plus you get to avoid your husband for four hours, avoid cooking for your ungrateful children and legitimatey swig from a hipflask in the morning. What more do you want, blood?
For Stoke Park golf enquiries, talk to James Jewell on 01753 717171. He’s dead nice. Stoke Park, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Bucks, SL2 4PG.