The many health and wellbeing benefits to golf are well documented but one of the least talked about benefits is that golf is one of the few sports that you can take up at any age and become proficient at in a short period of time.
Never was this point made more apparent than by one Annie Piotrowski who didn’t take up the game until she was 61 and is currently enjoying a great golf ‘career’.
Annie is currently playing at Macroom Golf Club and while she initially thought that golf had many barriers to entry, once she got started she realised that these were easily overcome and that a golf club was a great place to relax. With clubs and governing bodies determined to grow the game Annie is a great example of what can be achieved.
Annie Piotrowski’s Story
In September 2018 I represented Macroom Golf Club in the AIG Challenge Cup All-Ireland Final. What’s so great about that you might ask, lots of people have done similar things and never felt the need to go on and write about it!
Well, I took up golf aged 61 and I had never played any kind of individual or team sport in the past. Following retirement in 2010, I experienced what many people do, I found myself at a bit of a loss, not sure what new challenge to take up. So why did I opt to join a golf club?
A friend suggested it and my immediate reaction was, why? I didn’t know how to play, but my friend said I could learn. So, I took the plunge and signed up. I was immediately faced with being a novice in a world where even the terminology being used was alien to me. ‘Stableford’, ‘par’, ‘pitch and a putt’ were another language. It’s not easy to go from being expert and confident in your working life to being a ‘newbie’ where others seem to know everything.
I need not have worried however as everyone in the club was extremely supportive and encouraged me along the way. I learned very quickly the benefit of the handicap system, which allows all skill levels to play together and so with the help of a few golf lessons I set out on my journey.
My goodness, there were peaks and troughs along the way. I vowed to myself that the day I don’t enjoy it, I would give up. This never happened. Even days when I played really badly, I could always say tomorrow will be better. Surprisingly, it usually was.
I made some amazing friends and despite being a very mediocre golfer, in 2018 I was selected as a member of the Challenge Cup Team to compete initially for a Munster title and subsequently for an All-Ireland.
Those fears and anxieties I had experienced when I first took up the game suddenly re-emerged in force! But I thought, heck you’ve been chosen, so someone believes you can do it and that initiated a feeling of pride. The entire Challenge Cup journey was a tremendous experience, one I shall treasure forever. We got through each round, won the Munster District title and finished as runners-up in the All-Ireland. What a feeling of pride! Pride in the club, pride in the team, but mainly, pride in myself.
My rationale for writing this piece is really to give an answer to the question of why should someone take up golf. I believe it can transform your life at any age. Just when you think you have achieved everything in your professional life and it’s now time to sit back, you suddenly realise that taking up a new activity can lead to a different but equally fulfilling life.
Regardless of the medals won, golf taught me how to accept failure, find joy in small improvements in my game and accept that challenges can enhance and enrich your life. I haven’t even mentioned the health and social benefits to be gained, that’s another story!