We speak to Chris Kelby, head professional at the Royal Golf Club
Time Out Bahrain staff
So the weather’s ideal to get out on the golf course. For a complete beginner, what’s the best way to get started? The best way to get started is to book a series of lessons straight away with a PGA professional; in my experience those that try and teach themselves end up going back to the drawing board later on to undo bad habits that they have created on their own. Good fundamentals are the basis of good golf.
What equipment do you need initially?
Nothing initially except a pair of trainers or golf shoes. Anyone taking lessons at our academy is supplied with equipment during the sessions and you can also hire clubs when you want to play. In fact, hire clubs are included in the green fee price for the nine-hole Wee Monty par three course.
Is it advisable to have lessons or can you just have a go? Is there a driving range where you can practice?
It is definitely advisable to take lessons from the off, whether they are individual lessons or with a group. You can just come and have a go on the driving range at the Royal Golf Academy – it’s open to visitors seven days a week and is floodlit in the evenings.
Around how long does it take to become competent? That’s a tough question as everyone is different, but we aim to get everyone out on the Wee Monty par three course by the end of their first series of lessons. It depends on many things - natural talent and dedication to practice are key!
Are there any competitions beginners can get involved in? We have regular competitions for our junior golfers and every so often we run competitions for new players through the academy.
How long does an average round of golf take and, in that time, how far would you walk? On the championship course it would take around four and a half hours; the Wee Monty takes far less at around 90 minutes, with the added benefit of being a walking course which is obviously good exercise. To walk around there, you are probably going a couple of kilometres by the time you have found your ball a few times!
So aside from the walking and getting outside, what are the other health benefits? Golf is a far more athletic game than many people think; you are using well over 100 muscles to hit a ball and you are using your whole body. Top players now are athletes, so being fit and flexible are very important factors when playing golf. Our special ‘Fit for Golf’ package which combines golf tuition with fitness training specifically designed for golfers is becoming more and more popular.
How old do you have to be to get started? We take juniors from four years upwards; basically you can play golf at any age.
What’s the average age of players at the Royal Golf Club? The average age of our members at the moments is mid forties but we expect to see that drop in the coming years due to the various programmes in place aimed at growing the game amongst youngsters, both Bahraini and expat.
What are your facilities for young players? All of our course and practice facilities are available to players of all ages. We have a very popular Junior Development Programme at the academy that is growing year on year.
Anything else our readers should know about golf? Just that it is a wonderfully challenging sport that can take you to many beautiful places all over the world. In fact, our members now benefit from belonging to a Troon Golf-managed facility and they and their guests receive discounted green fees at other Troon properties all over the world. Golf can be anything you want it to be from a hobby or pastime to a passion or a career. One thing is for sure - once most people have hit that first perfect shot, they become hooked for life!
One for the girls
Denmark’s Christina Nielsen made history in Bahrain becoming the first female driver ever to take part in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The 20-year-old from Rungsted lined up against seasoned professionals and promising regional drivers for the opening race of the tour on November 17 and will back at the BIC in March for the closing battle of the series after races across the Gulf in the coming months.
Nielsen, who has already made a big impression in Europe, having competed in the German Porsche Carrera Cup and this year’s VLN Endurance Racing Championship on the Nürburgring said: “I maybe the only woman to drive in the championship, but for me when I put my helmet on I’m just another one of the drivers. I set my own targets to achieve and focus on my own goals.
“More and more women are interested in motorsport, especially in Europe and America, and hopefully it will happen in the Middle East, too. All they need is encouragement and the chance to compete.”
Fancy channelling your inner Christina? The BIC is running a ladies only track day on December 15 where you can get to grips with a range of powerful vehicles and really put the pedal to the metal.
The Track Xperience begins with a breakneck pace, three-lap spin in the passenger seat of a 291bhp Evo X with a highly qualified instructor then drivers get their own hands on a 210bhp Genesis followed by a 160bhp Caterham. For more information check out www.bahraingp.com.