Golf at Stoke by Nayland Golf Club: It's more than just birdies and bogeys
12th July 2017
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Back in February I did something I never thought I’d ever do; play golf and enjoy it. You can read about my first golfing experience here

I had so much fun, I went back for a second go, again with golf pro, Simon Dainty. This time, I have to say, the weather was kinder. I did not get blown away, but I was able to enjoy the stunning views over the Constable countryside

The introduction lesson was all about getting used to the game; I was encouraged to just give it a go, rather than worry about the positioning of my elbow or how I hold the golf club (AKA the sticky thing) My second lesson still had that ethos, but there was more focus on technique and understanding the rules and scoring of the game.

Before I hit the course in the golf buggy, Simon and I had a coffee in the bar area (it was too early for gin, otherwise I would have been tempted) to chat about how the rather complicated scoring system works, what the handicap thing is and what is a stroke index.

OK, so it’s not that complicated, but it’s not that straight forward either. Once you get it though, you get it.

At Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, they have two 18 holes courses; The Gainsborough and The Constable. These 18 holes are ranked in order of difficulty – the hardest being stroke index 1 and the easiest being 18. This Stroke Index is created by taking into consideration whether the hole is near water, the sand pit (AKA bunker, but I still prefer sandpit), rough grass, tall grass, a hill etc.

You may have heard people talk of their golf handicap. This is how many shots above Par it takes them to putt the ball in the correct hole over the course. And Par is how many shots it should take you to get that ball in that hole. For example, on the Gainsborough course, Simon, as a golf pro, should be able to get Hole 1 within 4 shots, because it’s been given a Par 4. I, however, would no doubt, take more shots. Maybe 8 or 9 (on a good day, with the wind in the right direction) so my score would be 4 or 5 over Par. These extra shots over Par, totalled up at the end of the round, is your handicap (once you have one by becoming a member). This is a great way to be able to play a sport at different abilities but still compete, so unique compared to most other sports.

Then there’s additional scoring terminology , birdies and bogies.

If you get a birdie, you have scored 1 shot under par. An eagle is even better, because you’ve scored 2 under par and an Albatross means you’ve scored 3 under par.

A bogey isn’t so good because you’ve taken a shot over par.

Birds mean you’re doing well and let’s face it, nobody likes a bogey!

Once that was all clear, we headed out onto the course, to have a couple of shots at various holes with different stroke indexes. The last being the hole featured in this classic 1980s Mars Bar advert. If you fancy a laugh, you can look at my attempt here.

Clearly, I need work on my technique, so the next stop was the driving range. This was to give me the opportunity to work on my swing. Something seriously lacking. Specifically, Simon wanted to work on increasing the power of my shot. Integral to that was the way I’ve been holding the golf club and my swing. But rather than teaching the correct techniques through dry and clinical terminology, Simon uses every day analogies which works brilliantly for a brain like mine.

After a good hour or so of working on my techniques (Chopping wood, stretch, straight arm, swing and pose!) we returned to the 8th hole. Back in February I managed to putt the ball within 8 shots. This time I managed with 2 fewer strokes. Clearly an improvement.

All that putting and swinging takes it out of you and we finished our lesson just in time for lunch. The perfect opportunity to try out the new Medana Mediterranean lunch restaurant. A wonderful venue overlooking the undulating hills of Stoke by Nayland. If you’re nearby, do pop in for lunch. There’s a currently a 2-for-1 offer and you don’t need to be a member to enjoy any of the restaurants or bars within the hotel. Our meals literally cost £6 each and I ate loads!

Thank you once again to Simon Dainty for his patience and great teaching. If you want to give golf a go (and I recommend you do) there’s a family open day, hosted at Stoke by Nayland Hotel later this year. 

Stoke by Nayland Golf club is also launching their starter academy, for those looking to get into golf, with little or no experience. You can read about it here

About the Author

Penny W

Member since: 17th March 2014

Hello! I'm Penny from thebestof Sudbury, shouting about the best local businesses from Hadleigh through the Clare. When I'm not doing that, you'll find me knitting socks or tending to my 6 chickens

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