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What Golf Means to Me

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Golf. The game we love to hate and hate to love, but it always keeps us coming back. I started playing golf when I was 10 years old. My Dad and I used to go down to the local 9-hole par 3 course in Burgess Hill on a Saturday morning and that was really the beginning of both our golfing lives. We obviously started as complete beginners and we were really lucky to have such a great little practice course and driving range on our doorstep. It kept the game interesting for me and was a very playable course for a youngster.

In fact, the area of Mid Sussex was a great place in general to learn the game. We were lucky to have 4 or 5 local courses – Lindfield GC, Hassocks GC (which is sadly no longer), Mid Sussex GC, par 3 Burgess Hill and 9-hole Cuckfield GC which were all £20 or less in the early 2000’s.

So once I got to the age where I could play by myself and with friends, it was a really accessible sport. It is still a game I love – whoever I play with – but it is very special to spend quality time with my Dad – which we’ve enjoyed for more than 20 years since we started.

Like most of the sports I play (football, cricket, rugby, athletics and golf), I picked it up quickly and got half decent handicap relatively soon, but struggled to progress any further than my peak handicap of 10. This was mainly due to not dedicating enough time to it and also the sheer frustration of not being able to play the shots you know you can play on a consistent basis.

Aside from football, it’s now the sport I invest most of my time and money into. Having recently had a baby girl and a few nasty injuries as a result of the ‘beautiful game’, I have packed up football and have now pretty much dedicated any spare time for sport to golf, whether it be playing, watching live or on the TV.

I am a sucker for the apparel and equipment side of the game too. I love having the best and most colourful gear around. Not great for the bank balance as we all know, but there’s nothing better than when your mate decides to video a tee shot and he catches the rare moment you flush one down the middle and your shirt looks great too! My wife kindly kitted me out with some new Titleist AP1 irons for my 30th and I finished the bag off with a TaylorMade Sim2 driver and some Areoburner Aeroburner woods. I love what I have in my bag now and it really adds to the enjoyment of the game for me when you get to pull a great club out to make each shot.

When the opportunity arose to work for Golf Escapes back in 2015 it was a great prospect to work in the industry, pick up a bit more knowledge of the game and of course play some of the world’s best courses. All that being said, my first ever familiarisation trip for the company to the Catalunya region, I had just got down to a 10 handicap, thought I knew everything to know about golf and then went on to shoot my worst-ever round of golf at the prestigious El Prat golf course, scoring 11 stableford points. Once again, the game had got me!

Working at Golf Escapes selling bespoke golf packages is great for keeping in touch with the game. It genuinely gives me joy to be able to hear people’s experiences of travelling around the world and hearing their thoughts on the courses they have played. It’s an exciting moment when a customer comes to you and says ‘I don’t mind where we go, what do you recommend?’  From then, you get to build a relationship and learn what type of golfer they are, the courses that will suit them best and then plan a trip for them based on everything you have learnt about their likes and dislikes etc. Then it’s a case of waiting for them to travel and receive the feedback you are always hoping to hear… ‘Great recommendation Stu, what can you do for us next year?’ Everyone loves to be able to sit in the clubhouse chatting about golf and when someone mentions a course they have just played, to reply with ‘I’ve played there’. From there the conversation about every course you have played begins and before long, you’re 5 pints in and the bar staff want to go home. It is great to know you are part of the reason people love the sport. 

Cornelia Golf Club
CORNELIA GOLF CLUB HOLE 27 LAKES TEE
Cornelia Golf Club

Organising golf trips is now something I am obviously very used to, so a couple of years ago when 8 of my non-golfer friends decided to take up the sport, they hadn’t even left their first driving range session before we had our first golf holiday booked in. We are now looking forward to our second trip together and they are all completely hooked. It is brilliant to be able to share those trips with them, as well as my brother-in-law, cousins, dad and some of his friends too, to make up a real variety of golfers for our now-annual holiday. The experience has also led me to arrange an annual charity golf day to raise money for West Sussex MIND

I am now 20 years into playing golf and it is safe to say, I am never going to be a pro, or a single figure handicap and it really has taken 20 years to come to terms with that! I can now just enjoy the game for what it is. It’s a time to clear your mind, relax, enjoy yourself and of course enjoy a beer in the clubhouse afterwards. Even if I shoot 90 – 100 now, I still leave the course happy. 

So really, with work, playing when I can, the charity golf day, the annual holiday, watching it every weekend on the TV and in the evening on YouTube, golf is pretty much my life (along with my wonderful wife and daughter of course)!

If you’re looking where to go on your next golf holiday, get in touch with me, I’m more than happy to help you go to your next bucket list course.

I am Stuart Ridley
Sales Executive, Golf Escapes
Your Game In One Word: Frustrating
Handicap: 14
Home Course: Mid Sussex Golf Club

About the Author

Stuart Ridley

Hi, I'm Stuart and I have been at Golf Escapes for over 6 years now. Since being here I have gained great knowledge of the courses and hotels we have to offer and enjoy sharing this with our clients and readers. I hope the blogs I write give a good insight into the products we offer and help you choose your next Golf Escape.

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