Maggie Oland loves to hit the golf course. ‘One group of my girlfriends ranges in age from 17 to 70’you meet so many great people of all ages,’ says Oland, 51, who golfs about three times a week nearly year-round. ‘The other gals I play with are long-time friends. We drink beer and talk through the entire round. I call them my ‘sistahs.”’
There are also a lot of laughs. Oland points to Tara Roden, 45, a golf pro in Kelowna, B.C., who became a friend after Oland took lessons from her. ‘Tara has a lot of personality. When someone makes a great shot, we do a ‘birdie dance,’ soaring and hopping around the green.’ Tournaments and ‘ladies’ nights’ often have a theme’like Mexico Night, when they golf in costume’and Oland travels with golfing friends at least once a year, heading to Arizona, California or Nevada.
She also values golf’s mental health benefits. ‘It completely takes your mind off whatever else is going on in your world. With three kids and a small business to run, I find it’s a nice escape,’ says Oland, who owns an engineering consulting business with her husband, Jeff, in Lake Country, B.C.
Golf isn’t an intense workout, but if you walk the course you gain endurance and improve bone strength (games typically last about four-and-a-half hours for 18 holes). Plus, a 150-lb. person who plays 18 holes’and carries the clubs instead of using a cart’burns around 374 calories an hour.
Oland, who tends to jog beside the golf cart, discovered that you have to be fit to be good. ‘When I started playing 20 years ago, I had to step it up physically, even though I was already active in softball and running.’ She started doing more stretches and yoga and using light weights to develop her core and back muscles, and found her game improved.
‘Golf has taught me patience and acceptance, and I use those skills in all aspects of my life: parenting, operating my business, in my marriage, socially and in my own healthy lifestyle,’ she says. ‘It’s an addiction’but it’s a healthy one!’
Want to play golf? Here’s how:
Find a course
Visit your provincial golf association site to find public courses in your area. Check the not-for-profit Executive Women’s Golf Association site at ewga.ca for a list of ‘women-friendly’ golf courses.
‘Whether buying or renting clubs, meet with your local golf pro,’ advises Roden. ‘She can suggest the shaft flex and length, and the grip size that’s best for you.’
What to wear
Many courses have a dress code, such as a collared shirt and no jeans. Check before you go. While not generally required, golf shoes help keep your feet from slipping, and gloves protect your hands from blisters and calluses.
How to learn
Look for women’s lessons and clinics (both individual and group) at your local course.