At one time, golf threatened Kelly Saddleton’s marriage. Now the sport helps to bring the whole family together – and Kelly is on a mission to get more women and girls playing. Kelly, who lives, works and golfs in Norfolk, tells her story…
The impact it has had on me and my family! Golf has given me a new lease of life in more ways than one. I love so many things about it.
But, it used to be a different story. Tell us…
I resented golf. Once upon a time golf was the other woman in my life. It took all my husband’s time and most of our disposable family income. I didn’t understand the game so I never gave it a chance. I thought it was elitist, expensive and boring.
So what changed and why did you start playing?
My marriage counsellor. She encouraged me to try to take part in my husband’s hobby and encouraged him to include me and the children. I had no idea about the offerings for women, children and families. I had always felt it wasn’t somewhere we would be welcomed. Who knew I, like many other golf widows were so wrong? As soon as I was provided with an opportunity to play it was only ever a matter of time before I became hooked. I just needed an invite!
What difference has it made to you and your family?
The time we spend together mainly. Golf is one of the few sports you can play as a whole family. It’s given us a common interest, a way to communicate whether it’s talking about golf or actually going to the course or the range and talking to the kids about their day. We’re away from screens and we are all together, life is always better for us as a four when we are outside and being competitive in one way or another.
So, you’re on a mission to encourage more women and girls into golf?
I am. I think we all have a responsibility to share our stories and experiences in a positive way and encourage more women and children to take part. The work we do now is vital, it will shape the future for women and girls in sport. I want to make a positive difference, in any way I can.
What do you see as the benefits?
Strengthening relationships for a start. There are so many! Golf has something different to offer every individual person. I love the social side, my husband and son love the challenge of improving. For them the technical side, having lessons, testing equipment/gadgets keeps them busy for hours and my daughter really enjoys the competitive side and going to events. We are all benefitting from the health benefits! The outdoors is great for your mental health, and for your physical health for that matter. You can hit your daily steps playing just 9 holes without even realising you’re exercising. I’m certainly more active than I have been in years.
How are you setting about it?
In as many ways as I can, however and whenever I can. It started with sharing honest content of my golf experiences on social media and on my blog and grew from there. I have utilised my passion for creative imagery and writing by contributing articles and photographs to golf publications and I’ve been sharing positive stories and ideas to anyone who will listen public speaking at events. I love finding new ways to promote the game and finding new people to talk to.
I work in business development so creating networks is something I understand the value of and naturally love to do. I have travelled to meet people doing incredible things for women and juniors, hosted events, taken part in women’s initiatives and documented it all in the hope that one woman might see my content, relate to it and might consider having a go themselves.
Health alert! You’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer. Are you spreading the word to golfers about the importance of sun protection?
I am! I have to. If I am able to help others prevent developing cancer I will! I am not a sun worshiper, I have pale Scottish skin and burn easily so I couldn’t believe my diagnosis given how careful I am. So, it goes to show it can happen to anyone. I always carry sun cream in my golf bag and will continue to try to educate other people about the dangers of the sun on the course.
I would love to team up with someone like the Melanoma Fund and help drive their Slip Slap Swing campaign, raising awareness is key.
All pro shops sell hats now so there really is no excuse for getting burnt. Sun protection is a must, starting at an early age with our junior golfers.