Saturday 25 October 2014

Time out on course is a great healer for grieving process

Published 28/07/2014 | 00:00

Golfing his way to good health: Gay Nolan

Gay Nolan has played golf since he was a child, mostly at Newlands Golf Club where he is now general manager.

His love of the sport started early and has lasted all his life - but it was a family tragedy which brought home to him the healing aspects of the game.

"I started caddying at the club as an eight-year-old," recalls the now 56-year-old who also worked for several years as bar manager at the 1,400-member club at Newlands Cross outside Clondalkin.

"Golf keeps you active and healthy, brings people closer together, helps combat stress.

"Physically you can be walking several miles in a day when you are playing 18 holes.

"Even if you're playing nine holes you're walking three miles or so. It's outdoors, exercise, really good for you."

Following the sudden death of his son six years ago, the game's healing properties came to the fore for Nolan, who found respite in the tranquil atmosphere of the golf course.

"I'd go down late in the evening after the day's work and play six holes.

"It'd be pitch dark when I was coming in from the course. It was just to get out there and clear my mind. I'd stay out for two or three hours pitching balls in the practice area, and there was nobody else around."

The exercise and the open space helped significantly with the grieving process, he recalls.

It took six or seven months before he was ready to get back into his normal routine with his usual golf partners, but he got there.

"Golf is a great mental break - it helps combat stress.

"There's a feeling of well-being and a feel-good factor about it.

"It also distracts you from the humdrum preoccupations of day-to-day life," he says.

"You're out walking and socialising and you're away from the everyday chores."

Orlaith Buckley agrees. "The ability to walk away from work and be virtually uncontactable for four hours - the golf course is one of the few places that mobile phones are switched off or on silent - gives golfers a complete break from day-to-day concerns," she says.

"Simply being out on the golf course can help clear your head," she adds.

On top of that the comradeship and camaraderie which is such a hallmark of the game often extends far beyond the course, to bridge and exercise classes and social outings.

"It's a great sport, and anyone can consider taking it up at any age," she says. There are so many benefits, physical, mental and social, to be gained, and it will be with you for life!"

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