As the Womens and Girls’ Golf Week initiative continues across Ireland and the UK, day three’s theme is all about health and wellbeing – #WHYIGOLF
Maeve Kelly alongside boyfriend Tristan at Carnoustie
Golf is one of the most popular sports in Ireland and is highly unusual in appealing more to older people – it has been found that the highest participation rates are for those in their 60s and 70s (Lunn & Kelly, 2017). Increasing numbers of older people in Ireland play golf, but due to the game becoming less popular among younger people, governing bodies are putting in place initiatives to highlight the benefits of golf to our health and wellbeing.
International evidence suggests that among older people, golfers are stronger, have better balance and live longer than equivalent non-golfers. Among Irish golfers, physical and mental wellbeing, alongside socialising and improving performance, are common motivations for playing – highlighting that golf is a game to be enjoyed on and off the course.
While Francesco Molinari recently triumphed at The Open in Carnoustie, one of our own was pacing the fairways, getting as close as she could to the world’s best. Maeve Kelly is a member of Castle Dargan in Co. Sligo and along with her boyfriend, Tristan, travelled to Carnoustie this year. We chatted to her about the experience and how she feels golf is good for your health.
Why do you play golf?
I play golf to enjoy the fresh air. I like how you can play at any time, all year round [pretty much!] and I love going out and trying to beat the course every day. I also love how it’s something I’ll always have, and I’ll be able to play for the rest of my life. You can also play it all over the world.
Who do you enjoy playing golf with?
Unfortunately I am one of few younger women playing in my club so I mostly enjoy playing with my boyfriend. We sometimes play competitions against each other and the loser then buys the pizza or ice cream afterwards!
Would you like to see more young women your age take up the golf then?
Yes definitely! Golf is a game you can play for the rest of your life. There’s no age limit and whether you play for fun or for competition, you meet lots of new people and have the opportunity to play many great golf courses, some in very scenic areas of Ireland and the World.
Depending on how much time you have, you can play after work or on the weekends. I love clearing my head after a day at the office and the fresh air is nice. Playing nine or eighteen holes goes a long way to achieving your 10,000 daily steps, so that’s an additional bonus!
You took on the #StepSpectator challenge at The Open with Golf and Health, how did that work? Could golfers do their own step challenge in their clubs?
We were given a step counter by Golf and Health on the Friday at around 2pm and our challenge was to see how many steps we could get in on that afternoon – we reached 15,000 steps in just 6 hours! We had been tracking how many we did on the practice days too and reached 25,000 one day!
People could definitely do their own step challenges at home on their own courses. I know Fitbits have become a very popular tool but most smartphones have step counters also and basically once you keep them in your pocket they will pick up your steps, you can compare with your playing partners then – but, ironically, it’s likely the more offline you hit the ball the more steps you will have trying to find it!
We were obviously spectating when doing the challenge but that’s what’s great about golf, you’re active if you’re playing or spectating. We’ll be at the World Amateur Team Championships at Carton next month too which will be another opportunity for people to take on the challenge if they want.
The R&A and other Home Nations are attempting to attract younger people to the game by highlighting the health benefits among other things. The introduction of the Campsite at The Open has been another great initiative, what was it like to stay there?
The campsite was great, we stayed for 8 nights and there was plenty to do in the evenings after the golf was over. There were football pitches, mini-golf and a golf dartboard that you could chip onto! There was also a nearest the pin simulator and live music in the beer tent every night. This finished up at 11pm so we weren’t too tired getting up to go back to the course the next day.
The campsite had a real festival vibe – you could bring your own beer and food so there were smaller groups congregating in their tents – it was very good craic. I’d definitely camp again next year and the fact that it’s free for under 25s is an added bonus.
As we go through this week we’re encouraging you all to get involved and share your story using #WhyIGolf.