Dawn O’Hanlon, who lives in County Durham, is absolutely loving golf!
She started with Get into Golf, and then got involved with Women on Par, England Golf’s scheme to get beginners out on the course, learning about rules and etiquette with a novel scoring system. Now she also plays with like-minded women in a golfing network and she’s planning to join a club. Here’s her story…
I love getting out in the fresh air as I enjoy nature. Golf makes me forget about life’s daily challenges and totally relaxes me – apart from when I hit a bad shot! It’s a different world out there. Meeting other golfers – men and women – who are more than willing to help me improve my game is tremendous.
Why did you start?
I was a hockey player and I adored it. But it’s a fast paced sport and I wanted something more relaxing. I liked the look of golf but put it on hold for quite a few years due to starting a family and my husband working long shifts. Once he retired and the family started to do their own thing, it was my chance to do what I wanted.
I also wanted to encourage my son into the game as he is dyspraxic and has difficulty with co-ordination. After a year, he is now enjoying the game too and hitting some fabulous shots. From this, we have set up a golf group for other dyspraxic children and just to see their faces light up when they are on the course and hitting the ball is the best feeling in the world.
Tell us about your first steps
I was terrified at first! I contacted my local golf club and I was lucky enough to meet their female pro, Julie Welch. She encouraged me to attend their Get into Golf classes each week. I had some really bad habits from my hockey days but Julie was very patient with me and still is! The club captain at the time helped me and asked me to go out on the course with his 12 year old granddaughter which helped my confidence.
I was nervous at first, and still am at times, but I just love the game and how it makes me feel alive and at one with nature. On the course you feel as if you are the only one in the world, it is so peaceful.
I’m still improving. I’ve got a long way to go, but each week I can see improvements. I work full time but I’m thinking of joining the club next year.
What has helped you develop as a golfer?
Women on Par has helped me progress with my scoring and learning about the etiquette of the game. It makes no difference what stage you are with your golf, as everyone is welcome. I love the different ways we can score too, which also broadens my knowledge. Thanks to all the events that our group organise, my social skills have improved. I’m quite a quiet individual and this has even encouraged me to attend on my own, making some fabulous friends along the way. Who wouldn’t enjoy a game of golf then afternoon tea? Fabulous!
I’ve also joined North East and County Durham Women’s Golf. My golf pro mentioned the group to me so I plucked up the courage and messaged Kay Dobson, the organiser, through their Facebook page. Kay then asked me along to their next get together and the rest is history! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
When I attended my first get together with the group, the ladies were fabulous. Everyone’s very helpful and patient. I have learned a lot through this group and I try to go along to all the outings as it improves my game tremendously. I meet different people all the time with varying degrees of golf skills which is good for me. They keep me right too!
What’s been your best and worst golfing moments?
My best golfing moment was getting an eagle (totally a fluke) just a couple of weeks ago. My worst and funniest was driving off the tee and hitting the ball into my friend’s golf bag which we’d left halfway up the hole! We couldn’t have planned it like that could we!
What would you say to other women and girls to encourage them to play?
Get into golf! Find a club that will nurture you or a group like North East and County Durham Women’s Golf who are very helpful and encourage you to play as much as you can. We go to different clubs and have a game of golf then afternoon tea. My husband is very jealous of my social life now! Never give up either – one day you’ll play a great game of golf then the next, you’re pulling your hair out.
Click here to find out more about Women on Par.