For Arlene Bailey the daily grind of work, the stresses of being a single mum to two teenagers and dealing with her mum’s dementia proved a suffocating combination.
“I found it hard to breathe at times,” she has admitted with real honesty.
Yet the antidote to the pressures of life wasn’t far away. The oxygen supply came in the shape of golf and it helped pump new energy into Arlene’s life.
Golf may be a sport for many, but for some it’s also a way to find peace and relaxation away from the hassles of everyday living.
The mental health benefits from golf may be intangible, but they are present. There is no doubt that time spent exercising outdoors in good company and surrounded by beautiful countryside is good for the mind and soul.
Arlene has always been sporty and enjoyed swimming, tennis and hockey. As a former PE teacher, sport and competition was in her blood.
Aside from playing pitch and putt, though, golf had not been on her radar.
Then came a decision to actively find a pursuit that could give her some ‘me’ time.
Time spent away from work and family and where she could concentrate on the here and now without worrying about what had just happened or what may be around the corner.
“I was a single mum, divorced and my own mum was suffering from dementia and it all got a bit crazy,” added Arlene, originally from Zimbabwe.
“I decided to take the bull by the horns and joined Finchley Golf Club. If truth be told I didn’t play much for the first two years and then made a decision that I would give it a real go in the third year – and I haven’t looked back.
“I decided to take on someone to work for me on a Tuesday so I had the day to play golf and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
“There’s a social side to the game, it’s great exercise and I find that there’s a meditative quality to the game too.
“I found the time I needed for myself on the golf course.”
Arlene has since re-married and it’s unsurprising that her husband Keith is also a golfer.
“We didn’t meet through golf, we met online, but I did make it clear that anyone I found had to play golf,” added Arlene with a laugh.
Now a member at North Middlesex Golf Club, the home of Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, Arlene is enthralled by the game and helps organise the Pearson Trophy – an event played for by golfers from Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire.
A tidy 17 handicapper, Arlene also spends time encouraging the new members who have joined the club to get out on the course and have fun.
“I was off 30 when I started and there are now new golfers coming into the club who play off anything up to a handicap of 54,” admitted Arlene who now works as a doula, a trained companion to help couple through pregnancy, labour and the early months of childcare.
“But you know what – that doesn’t matter. I just love the fact that people throw themselves into the game and enjoy it.
“I love being part of my club and they are a younger group of women in the section who all love the game.
“I’ve always said that I’d much rather be last in a group of 30 women than first in a group of five.
“Golf is about so much more than winning.
“I love the fact that it encourages to live in the moment and you can leave the rest of your life behind for three or four hours while you enjoy yourself.”
Women and Girls’ Golf Week
For more on Women and Girls’ Golf week, check out the #WhyIGolf webpage.
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