u3a - Golf

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Some consider golf is just hitting a small ball whilst walking in the countryside. I beg to differ and you might be forgiven for seeing me as something of an obsessive, which I take as a compliment, but I don’t play daily, watching it on TV 24/7/365 or religiously clean my clubs as others do their cars!

Lockdown made golf a focal point of outdoor sports so when things eased clubs saw memberships and playing rose dramatically. Golf’s unique characteristics; open spaces, few around on the course, saw it become an activity easily managed. With ‘stadium’ sports behind closed doors, many fulfilled their hunger for activity and many clubs obliged with ‘flex-deals’ for limited golf at prices below full fees. Spectators at stadiums are back off the agenda leaving golf to benefit at least for the time being.

Playing golf anywhere is unique and inspiring, always you against the course, with no two shots, holes or courses the same. Each track brings unique challenges and opportunities to experiment. I love cutting corners or going over trees and as the man said, ‘if you don’t try you’ll never know!’

When golf re-opened myriad golfers clamoured to get back on course, some to their detriment; they didn’t take advice to tone-up to prepare and I know a few! Many clubs widened tee intervals to 10mins, transforming pace of play. This reduced tee slots initially at popular times too. However, May to September brought brilliant weather and so mid-afternoon and evening rounds filled up. Matters are less now less pressurised as schools and colleges re-opened; many came off furlough or made redundant losing the financial opportunity to play. When the ‘clocks back’ reduced daylight will squeeze green fee play, a vital source of extra income. So clubs that moved to ‘members only’ might regret this as rejected regular visitors find other venues. Ending the 10min interval as we move into the winter season, might consider they almost certainly won’t be fully booked all day, every day and reduced tee intervals will slow the game more than the poorer weather does and at times when players especially want brisker play. My own club indicated a possible return to 7mins, which doesn’t impress and is 1min less than the R&A recommend of 2ball set-ups.

With golf showing the highest levels of COVID management, it’s highly likely to avoid closure as further restrictions return. For myriad participants, golf has proven it’s crucial to many, especially societies. I’ve warned complacent clubs before they may rue decisions to limit bookings to members, as societies, a large source of income, will take their business to more forward-thinking clubs. Creative ways of accommodating visiting groups have been developed and failure to exploit their assets could be catastrophic. Many club secretaries harp on about loyalty of members but fail to do the same to their wider customer base.

Lockdown presented opportunities to consider clubs’ image. Golf presents a stuffy, dated and deterrent image in places, whilst many clubs have changed to reflect the modern game; the terms’ ‘young, vibrant, dynamic, welcoming’ spring to mind, where any human is accepted. Where clubs are at the wrong end of the image spectrum and have not benefited after easement the terms, ‘elitist, interviews, waiting lists, playing in rounds etc’ come to mind.

Committed golfers always understood that golf had to resume with effective COVID management, and that they have the same responsibilities as clubs for maintaining safety. These must be sustained indefinitely so that the special characteristics of golf can be enjoyed.


Mind Body and Soul? All golfers attest to the physical and psychological benefits of the game. Few call it a good walk spoiled and whilst we usually come off the course a bit battered, we can’t wait for the next game! Older golfers consider health and fitness as central to their enjoyment, whilst those in the 20s and 30s take part in other sports.

Isolation brings focus to The Social Context of Golf, be it self or otherwise. Many golfers used playing ‘all 19!’ several times a week as their only source of social contact. Others may have with differing lifestyles with golf not their sole form of contact with others, but missing the game will have had an effect. Extra-curricula activities, singular or collective, are for everyone’s sanity, some perhaps more than others. As anyone gets older are we more susceptible to the disbenefits of isolation, even when not alone? Being under another’s foot can be dispiriting and so the need to be with ‘mates’ is part of the human experience and COVID has dented that. The loss of almost 12months of golf doesn’t sound onerous, but if it’s your only source of social contact the weeks can seem like months.

If we perpetuate the adage, ‘A Good Walk Spoiled.’ We have to consider attitudes to golf. Unless you really don’t care a jot about your play, the roles of skills and coaching come to mind. Also, the ‘quality of walk is more important than quantity.’ So much time on a course is spent between shots when you enjoy a chat or the views. As social amateur golfers, whilst we aren’t super-fit Olympians, we ought to be interested on how we improve aspects of our game. There has to be a balance between the pressures of fitness and skills and that takes a degree of thinking and time with a professional with the experience to guide you. We all should want to reflect on generally decent play, which goes a long way to keep mind and spirit intact.

Managing Health Risks is at the core of our being. Walking itself improves your chances of resistance to serious illnesses. The several miles at golf may be walking but is it quality walking? Don’t misunderstand me; any walking is good, but effective walking is differently good. We have to exercise the cardio-vascular system to make it work hard (not excessively) to maintain the heart and breathing systems. Don’t think you have to ‘push it’ up a hill on a course; simply try to increase the pace you are moving at a little bit more harder than the last round. Don’t let anyone preach that you have to ‘sprint’ round a course to maintain your health. Or have to carry your gear. Your golf ‘walks’ might well be part of wider lifestyle. Mine includes brisk dog walks per day and you will have your own wider regimes.

The Social Dimension doesn’t mean you have to go round with others dreaming up discussion topics, which can spoil the technicalities. After all you hope for a decent score so yapping on about BREXIT, COVID, TRUMP or others won’t help. Golf facilitates more social interactions in play than most sports but it’s not mandatory to engage in copious, exhausting conversations. By all means encourage and ‘applaud,’ pass the time of day on what golf is happening, but don’t come off drained by any windbags you play with. It damages your mind-set and your game will suffer. Some windbags use vocal overload to put you off your game, especially the ‘bean counters’’ running commentaries to wind you up! Keep the social dimension under control when playing but unleash things afterwards the round.

Playing the game should keep your spirits up, if you manage mindfulness and golf isn’t a game of perfect. Fresh air is invigorating whether on parkland or coastal courses, they bring out a smile inside; capture that and let it relax you to play the best golf you can. Partners can often be nuisances in casual or competitive play, whether they mean it or not. They can also be encouraging companions. Your enjoyment of golf is your agenda. Learn to ‘zone put’ of domestic stresses unhelpful players and the inconsistencies that bring out some odd shots. Be determined to enjoy the day whatever, but keep focussed on the skills you have and USE THEM WELL!

Weightwise, I’ve heard that you can burn around 1800 calories in a round of golf, so that’s aiming a Big Mac and the works, a pizza or maybe a three-piece at KFC. So the ubiquitous bacon roll and coffee before golf is not a problem. You will burn that off over the outward nine. Leave it at that. Other exercise can help with weight management but remember 18holes can drain you. You will lose weight but remember you can do this with other activities and besides weight loss can also be damaging. Your BMI (Body Mass Index – Height against weight –Google it and measure) can suggest anything from bulk up or drastically diet!

Much is said about Working Out for upper body health and development. Irrespective of the strength of your swing, your upper body does benefit from the exercise. However, it can also disbenefit, with extra pressure on the heart; DO CONSULT YOUR GP over heart issues and golf. Many become ill or worse die on the course. Our numerous upper body muscles all come into play and we have to nurture them within essential pre-golf exercises, to maintain flexibility and agility. Other domestic activities can replicate the golf swing muscle movements so work them out. But don’t go onto a course without having flexed the muscles that drive your golf. Otherwise your enjoyment will diminish.

Getting Older and Older?

How long you play into life depends on myriad factors, from genetics to lifestyle, occupation to extra-curricular activity, etc. We are all Getting Older and older. Some boffins scientists say low handicaps increase life expectancy and other headliners. The point is to lead your life according to your expectations, if any. There is no magic formula for long life. If golf I part of your lifestyle, keep it that way.

Physical activities raise heart rates, helping blood flow to support you your Brain Health. Mind you, where a heart condition is present, medication may well aid the process with the likes of blood thinners and statin/anti-inflammatories. That said the more the brain is exercised, the better it can function and so any onset of brain function deterioration can be delayed or prevented. The thought processes a player should enact during a round, along with any numerical analyses that co e into play, all help the brain dso its work. So the fresh may help but how you need your brain can at least equally crucial

Cloudy or not, vitamins from the sun and air kick in so golf, of course, has Nutrient benefits too, so Vit D helps calcium levels and bone strength. This can benefit ladies especially who are more prone to osteoporosis. But like all other good things, too much can be equally a problem. So balance and proportionality are essential in a balanced lifestyle. And don’t think you have to chase the sun in the more exotic golfing locations to get the vits. You can get plenty at home.

Is time relative or real in Golf? - 22nd September 2020

Motives, Leaders, Course - 3rd September 2020

The times they are a changing - August 21st 2020

Tournament Round Up - August 12th 2020

US PGA is in a strange place - August 5th 2020

Andrew Johnson, Jon Rahm and European Tour microphoning - August 3rd 2020 

The PGA tour so far - July 27th 2020

Ryder Cup Postponement - July 10th 2020

To introduce myself………………. 

02 Image MP

‘Once a One Hit Wonder,” Martin ‘Eaglescorer’ Pugh
UK U3A Golf Advisor

 “The most important shot in golf is …………. The next one!!!!!”


Through our passion for golf we the game we embrace it’s future.

“Golf inspires & frustrates, but we come back for more!!!!!”

The best thing about golf for me?

I have OCD. Golf is ideal as its always about, ‘NEXT SHOT, HOLE, ROUND!’

One Hit wonder?

My first ever round at Ellesborough at 12yrs; hit a four iron onto a Par 3 green. You’d think I’d won The Open! Reality kicked in so I learned to forget the last shot………always!!

The worst thing(s) about golf for me?


You could witness me chuntering on about players who ignore others on the course and hold up play

My biggest memories?

Royal Troon for The Open, with Stenson and Mickleson on the ‘round of the decade!’

Playing Natadola, Fiji – mountainous and coastal tournament course!

CV (?)

  • Retired Architect
  • Passionate golfer from South Bucks
  • 100+ courses played, home and abroad
  • Playing Senior Opens for over 10yrs
  • Seen tournaments home and abroad
  • Promoted events and golf breaks
  • Contributes to the Golf Media
  • Contributed to Rules and Pace of Play issues
  • Attends Rules Schools
  • A few successes
  • Played Fiji, Sandwich, Belfry, Celtic Manor and Troon

What would I like to achieve from this role?

  • More players joining the game
  • U3A Players improve their game
  • Local/Regional/National events
  • National U3A Golf Society
  • Groups becoming successful
  • Clubs increasingly benefit from us
  • Groups compete with each other
  • U3A Golf Facebook Page
  • International U3A Golf

CONTACT ME:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


“This is a game of misses. The chap who misses the best is going to win.”

THE KEY PRINCIPLES of a U3A Golf Group should start with:

  • SHARED RESPONSIBILITY for organisation
  • WORKING TOGETHER, on events
  • The desire to DEVELOP SKILLS
  • The commitment to STRENGTHEN ABILITY
  • The dedication to LEARNING about the key issues in golf

Whilst having FUN trying

This ‘guide’ is based on my club, ‘nomad,’ Society and U3A travels. I’m passionate about golf and its future. Whilst enjoying golf have an eye for its future in all you do.

  • The content here is not a ‘cast in stone’ formula but……….
  • Seeks happy, contented and productive groups
  • Golf is for collective enjoyment and fun
  • No one should feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or ignored
  • Everyone must be empowered to contribute without fear or prejudice
  • So the quality of ‘leadership’ comes from ‘serving’ not ‘governing’
  • No one is the fount of all golfing or organisational knowledge, including me
  • So welcome all feedback so that you can make progress

You’re welcome to take this with a pinch of salt, cherry pick what suits you best,

adapt to your circumstances and share with the rest of us in U3A Golf

So here we go …………….. Enjoy!!!!

CORNERSTONES of an effective U3A Golf Group?............. Try these: -





“Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.”

U3A is for ‘seniors,’ so the atmosphere is ‘youthful exuberance.’ The mind may lead but the body often lags behind! What do you think?

  • SHARE in group decisions
  • RESPECT each other’s views and inputs and…
  • WORK TOGETHER – don’t rely on any one person or group
  • ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER especially promoting improving your game
  • CREATE A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE- new members pick up on a subdued or aloof tone


Golf demands SKILLS and COMMITMENT to enhance enjoyment. ‘Hitting and Hoping’ just doesn’t work.

A U3A Golf Group should EMBED a level of ‘VALIDATED’ DEVELOPMENT. I’ve played in several groups but not seen development practiced. We might reflect that we’ve done well in careers and life and seek some development of skills in retirement, albeit without becoming obsessive and gain significant levels of fulfillment.