Women and Girls’ Golf Week: TV and radio presenter Jenni Falconer on her golfing adventure

TV and radio presenter Jenni Falconer describes her golfing adventure and urges more women and girls to follow her and Get into Golf

Why did you want get into golf?

It baffles me as to why women in general aren’t playing as much golf – they’ll go and join a gym, they’ll go to a spin class but they wouldn’t think ‘I want to go and play golf in my free time’.

So my aim is to show that we should be going to play golf, it is possible and it is something that is just as enjoyable as all the other activities women do in their spare time. Golf can appear to be one of the least-accessible activities at the moment and it does seem to be such a male-dominated sport so let’s change that!

I’ve always wanted to play golf, and I decided that 2018 was the year I was going to learn. I’ve never played before so I wanted to know if it’s possible and if I can do it. Luckily I’ve recruited some friends to help me try and achieve it, and the PGAs of Europe added the extra challenge of giving me just a few months to go from a complete novice to competitor in front of spectators at the European Tour’s GolfSixes!

In at the deep end then! How did you prepare?

The PGAs of Europe and love.golf got me started. love.golf is a programme designed specifically to focus on coaching women. I am also a regular at a driving range near to where I live and did a lot of extra practice there particularly as I was learning over the months when we had snow, rain, hail and general freezing weather conditions….sometimes I just needed to be under cover!

How had you progressed by GolfSixes?

By the time of the Golf Sixes, I had definitely improved – getting more confident with my driver and a lot more consistent with my irons. My putting was also much better….it was nerve-racking to play with so many pros on the day but I loved every minute and despite first tee nerves under the eye of a fairly large crowd, I soon relaxed. There was a great mix of people playing in the pro-am alongside me – admittedly they were much better and far more experienced than I was – and they were really encouraging and supportive of the fact that I was new to the game. I would love to play in the tournament again next year – this time just be a lot better! Haha!

How were your first tee nerves?

The first tee nerves really do get to you…at that stage I was nervous teeing off in front of anyone let alone a large crowd cheering you on whilst you did it. Not surprisingly I messed it up and it rolled off the tee….oh dear!

What’s happened since then with your golf?

Since then, I have played more, practiced more and worked on various disciplines from my swing, grip and stance to really learning how to relax whilst hitting the ball. I have played a lot on golf courses with a few friends too and that has been a huge contributing factor to my improvement. Watching and learning from others – making mistakes with others and laughing about them so as not to take it too seriously and also witnessing friends also make errors only boosts your confidence that it happens at times to everyone.

I have also played in a couple more tournaments – the big one was the Celebrity Cup weekend at Celtic Manor. That was without doubt the best golfing experience I have had so far in terms of the incredible course on which we were playing, dealing with the pressure of the competition, huge crowds on every hole, great camaraderie between players and for me playing so intensively helped me improve even more.

What do you enjoy about golf?

I love the time out, away from emails, phones, general stresses – this is like a period of calm where your focus is entirely on the game. I guess for that reason it’s a form of meditation, where you can switch off and train your mind to think only about your swing, and then once that’s out the way – you start thinking about your next shot. It’s also a lot of fun, whilst challenging, the latter being an element I really embrace as I am constantly striving to improve.

What are your golfing goals?

I suppose one of my golfing goals is to encourage more girls to take up the sport – it is such a shame that it is seen as a game played predominantly by middle aged men, but things are moving forward – there is much being done to try and change the perception and find ways to make it more accessible to women, in particular those who haven’t played before. If you are keen to learn, there should be an easy route to go down into order to give it a go.

On a personal level, my main goal is to improve – I have been working hard and playing as often as I can. I am now a member of a couple of clubs and so want to build up the confidence to play with other members and by doing so hopefully I can work on bringing down my 36 handicap. I truly love this sport and can’t believe it has taken me so long to give it a shot. 2019 is going to be a rather big year with the Solheim Cup being at Gleneagles and as a Scottish girl who now truly loves golf, I am hugely excited about what might be ahead.

How are you sharing your golfing adventure?

Throughout my initial learning period, I was sharing my golf experiences on social media and the PGAs of Europe were also documenting it as we went on using #FalconerForeGolf. You can follow on my instagram account @jennifalconer.

What would you say to any woman or girl considering playing golf?

You need to just give it a go – see what you’re missing out on, I am certain that you will love it! It’s an amazing opportunity to have ‘me time’ whilst learning a new skill, you really have to focus and in doing so you push all stresses about life to the side for that time you are on a golf course. What’s more, you have a great laugh with friends, you meet new people, you are outside in the fresh air and it’s a great way to keep fit….make sure you wear a fitness tracker – you’ll be in awe at your

steps!!

• Inspired by Jenni to Get into Golf? Visit www.getintogolf.org to find free and low cost beginner activities across the country.

Caption: Tips from the top: Jenni Falconer (centre) with Georgia Hall and Charley Hull (image courtesy PGAs of Europe).