By Cathy Goodfellow
“The most important shot in golf is the next one” – Ben Hogan.
I think that in life, like in golf, we all need to start each day with a clean slate. It is our next shot at life. Forgetting and learning about past mistakes and getting ready for the next shot.
With so much in the media about mental health, there is a huge opportunity in the golf industry to do our part to show the correlation between exercise and mental health. Studies have shown that even a ten minute walk can immediately boost brain chemistry to increase happiness.
No wonder we feel better after playing a round of golf.
With more and more young people being prescribed antidepressants, how great would it be if those same young people could take a step on the golf course to experience all the good that can come from spending the day on the course? Moods are all positively affected by exercise. I can honestly say that I never ended a game of golf in the same state of mind that I started it in….in a good way. Usually by the end of the second hole, I will have forgotten what has transpired in my day and I would have had a few laughs already.
So much more is experienced than playing a game. It begins the moment you pull into the parking lot and head to the club house. There is comfort in walking into the pro shop and having the people waiting for their tee time welcome you by name. They usually know your family members, how long you have been at the course and what kind of a game you play. This kind of feeling is not isolated to the courses where it cost thousands of dollars to be a member. Stories that warm my heart are ones that tell about someone who gets off a city bus at the Municipal course, grabs their clubs out of club storage and joins their group to spend the next few hours enjoying the fresh air, the exercise and spending time with friends that share their love for the game. It is their second family. If one of their group is a bit late a quick phone call is made to make sure they are okay.
My favourite time of the year when I work in the pro shop is the spring. Seeing everyone again for the first time since the long winter. They are usually at the receiving end of a bone crushing hug from me. It can also be a sad time when a usual four-some has been reduced to a three-some because of the death of one of their group over the winter. But in a case like this, I make a point to mention the name of the person that has passed and tell a few stories about them. It helps them go to the first tee without their friend. The memory of their friend will stay alive by replaying past games and past times in the club house after their game. After the death of our oldest son, we attended an event at our home course they affectionately called ‘fun night’ where we were greeted by warm hugs and support like you would find no where else.
Hopefully, the day that your course opens this year is not too far away. Let’s all do our part to spread the good news about the benefits of the ‘game’ we all love and introduce even one person to this fabulous sport. When you rejoin your golfing group, appreciate the time you get to spend together and if you notice a group that has lost one of their friends, make sure you go up to that group and mention their friend’s name.
Bring on spring!
Cathy Goodfellow has worked in the education field for 24 years. In season she has also patrolled the pro shop at the Rivendell Golf Course in Verona, Ontario for 16 years.
An advocate for the sport, she has also worked for the GAO promoting the Golf For Kids Program and delivering the good news of the benefits of the GAO programs to the Ottawa Valley.
“I am a golfer but not in the ‘Golf Channel’ kind of way. I am passionate about all that golf has to offer and on any given Friday night you will find my husband and I with our friends golfing, dining and solving the problems of the world.”
If you want to chat with her (golf is usually the topic du jour) she can often be found on Twitter @goodfellowc29