Community projects helping to make golf more accessible - Sam Scott

Summer is here and there’s no better time to get out on the golf course. Watching the professionals at the recent 150th Open at St Andrews reminded me of how much I enjoy a round of golf on a sunny summer’s morning and inspired me to dig out my clubs.

It isn’t just me getting out on the golf course. Golf was one of the biggest sporting success stories of lockdown, with participation numbers across the country seeing the biggest rise in years. Thousands more people got outside and enjoyed the wonderful benefits the sport has to offer.

It may not be as intense as a HIIT workout or a game of 5-a-side but don’t underestimate the positive impact a round of golf can have on our health and wellbeing. Playing an 18-hole course usually requires walking four to five miles and taking around 13,000 steps, which gets our heart rate up and can help us to feel fitter, stronger and healthier. Spending so much time in the fresh air, often in picturesque scenery, can also help us to connect with the natural environment, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and boost our mood.

Edinburgh Leisure is a charity on a mission to keep everyone active and well and we are proud to offer opportunities for everyone – from seasoned pros to people who have never stepped foot on a golf course – to experience the joy of golf. We boast six scenic golf courses across the city, from Silverknowes, which looks out over the Firth of Forth to Fife, to Braid Hills, with views of the seven hills of Edinburgh.

Playing an 18-hole course usually requires walking four to five miles and taking around 13,000 steps.

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Our Active Communities programme uses the power of physical activity to support people affected by disabilities, health conditions, inequalities and poverty to improve their health and wellbeing. We are delighted that two of our Active Communities projects, Movement for Memories and Healthy Active Minds, are helping to make golf more accessible.

Movement for Memories supports people with dementia to get active to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life. It offers participants the opportunity to be paired up with a volunteer buddy to take part in activities they enjoy, such as playing a round of golf, but need a little helping hand with.

John, who has dementia, plays golf at Carrick Knowe Golf Course with his volunteer buddy Simon through Movement for Memories. He told us why he loves his sessions with Simon so much: “I’ve always loved playing golf but since my diagnosis I’ve struggled to get out on the golf course myself. Going out in the fresh air with Simon and chatting about golf has boosted my mood, helped me get my confidence back and reduced the anxiety I sometimes feel. He understands that my speech can get a bit muddled and that I can forget which hole I’m going to next and he makes me feel at ease.”

Healthy Active Minds uses physical activity to help people struggling with their mental health to recover, stay well and live fulfilling lives. The project recently launched a new golf group, which meets weekly for nine holes at Silverknowes Golf Course followed by a bite to eat in the cafe. It gives participants of all abilities the chance to get active, improve their game and meet new people with a shared interest, all while spending time in calming outdoor setting.

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If you have been inspired to get out on the golf course, whether it’s by the pros in St Andrews or John in Carrick Knowe, find out more about how our Active Communities programme can help you by emailing [email protected] or calling 0131 458 2260.

Sam Scott is an Active Communities Development Officer at Edinburgh Leisure

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