I'm no Tiger Woods, in actual fact, I probably have more of a penchant for a spot of crazy golf than pitch and putt, never mind an 18 hole course of golf, but that is not to say I haven't put in my fair share on a fairway. As a child I played on a fair few courses in Suffolk, and there is something so lovely about a day out on the golf course that I have been inspired to pick up a nine iron once more and find out what an Essex golf club has to offer.
Essex has many reputations, from the tyre screeching boy racers to English gentry that want to settle in the luscious Essex countryside. Golf goes hand in hand with a lifestyle that is more in line with the latter than the former, but it is no longer a world where membership is restricted to a select few. As a past-time golf is both a networking opportunity, and a way to relax. Many deals are said to be sealed on the fairways of an Essex golf club, and with plus fours at the ready, I aim to find out what else can be enjoyed at these prestigious country locations.
Typically golf courses are set in an undulating countryside landscape and come complete with other leisure facilities such as spa, beauty therapies and the ubiquitous club house. The modern incarnation is geared towards providing facilities for those who want to play golf, and those that like to accompany these people, but don't want to try and score a hole in one. Function rooms are available for parties and conferences, and some clubs provide hotel facilities.
Clubs in Suffolk, from my ever fading memory seemed to be male dominated places. I recall that my grandmother would always stay at home and bake whilst I practiced improving my handicap with my grandfather. The sense of male solidarity was evident, especially in the club house after a full eighteen holes. Admittedly, whilst I was practicing my swing, I was more of a caddy than a rival on the fairway, but I was still allowed to join in post-game frivolities.
That was probably more a sign of the times than of the location, as the modernisation of the golfing establishment seems to be widespread. Children, mothers, aunties and uncles are all able to come as a group and practice a putt, or indulge in non-golfing activities. In fact, rather than the women folk staying at home and baking on a Saturday afternoon, there is more of a chance of them coming along to an Essex golf club. Most places now have a restaurant where families and friends can gather for an expertly prepared luncheon or dinner, and there is always the chance of cup of tea while others are tackling the tees.
The new generation of golf clubs provide an upmarket leisure facility for those who want to enjoy time with the family whilst avoiding parks and burger bars. It has to be said, that while many families are seemingly attached to the controller of a games console, investing in teaching the skills involved with playing golf is a preferable option. Not only do the whole family get a chance to interact, get some fresh air and have some old fashioned fun, skills are learned that could be beneficial in many areas of a person's life.
Whether golf is used to build up physical stamina or improve mental arithmetic it is ultimately a chance for everyone to get together and become a more sociable member of society; and you never know, it could well be the prelude to sealing an important deal for future generations, rather sealing the fate of a boy racer.
Dom Donaldson is a sporting expert.
Find out more about what you could enjoy at an Essex Golf Club for all the family and your friends at The Three Rivers Club.