Ryder Cup inspires golfers to take to the course

THIS weekend the country will go Ryder Cup mad and, as the USA and Europe gear up to do battle on the golf course, we took a few clubs around Saffron Walden to see what one of the oldest sports in the world has to offer.

In our group were a raw beginner, a novice and an experienced amateur. The first thing of note is that Walden’s course has a little of something for everybody.

All too often beginners can be put off by a seemingly stuffy attitudes at many courses, but not Saffron. The staff are friendly, polite and above all helpful.

Rob McNicholas is the residents PGA Qualified Teaching Professional and he is willing and able to teach people of all ages and abilities.

He takes regular Saturday morning junior group lessons and adult group lessons with friends and families all invited. Six lessons are charged at a price for five – �110

The long-term benefits of a walk around a good course are becoming more and more obvious as research suggest it eases stress and also promotes fitness.

Club spokesman Chris Standen said: “It is a great sport to provide health into late life – a number of our members play well into their 80’s and beyond, and it provides their only exercise, so they play up to three times per week.”

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Golf is a sport for young and old people, and the Walden course provides everyone with a stern challenge.

The club was founded in 1919, and to keep facilities updated work is beginning on a large practice area near the first tee which will provide a superb area to chip and putt on. Mr Standen also revealed that the club has a full bunker and tee levelling program in place.

The course was designed by Howard Swan, and features a number of great holes.

Mr Standen said: “The fifth and eighteenth are most memorable owing to the views of Audley End House and Saffron Walden town centre respectively.

“There is a very tough finish to the round as well. The thirteenth and fifteenth are very long par fours, and the seventeenth can really ruin your card.– 428 yards uphill and often into the wind.”

For people that want to try the sport or are looking for a base to play regulary from can try a trial membership to test the course and facilities for themselves.

“We currently offer a Trial Membership of �150 for two months unlimited use of the course and a one hour lesson with Rob,” said Mr Standen. “it is proving popular in getting more people to play our course.

“We are also looking to host an open day in the coming months to welcome people of all ages and abilities.”