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Children and Golf – Why it’s a good idea to get them started young

Tom Daniels is a school teacher in the Blue Mountains who truly believes that golf can have a positive impact on children from a young age. Tom has two children and is an avid supporter of the Junior Clinic at the Wentworth Falls Country Club (WFCC) on Sundays. Whenever he has a chance he will also take his kids out on the course for hit.

 

According to Sports Medicine Australia, Junior Clinics, where kids as young as 5 years of age can get accustomed to the world of golf, are beneficial from both a mental and physical perspective. However, its not only a question of improving hand eye coordination and getting kids to do some exercise, there is also a social element that includes etiquette, respect and sportsmanship that is regarded as being integral with the game of golf. Furthermore, these various positive elements can be instrumental in the development and growth of young children.

junior clinic wentworth falls country club

Lang Doolan, Club Pro at WFCC, has been holding Junior Clinics for quite some time and truly enjoys sharing his passion for golf with the young ones.

Although children are ever more drawn to the digital world and love interacting with a touch screen rather than spending time outside, junior clinics are a growing trend. Because of its health benefits, golf is a game that many parents introduce to their children at a young age. Playing golf opens up a world of activity for young ones that aids in their advancement through life.

 

Benefits – Physical / Health

 

Neil Plimmer is a PGA professional in the UK that has dedicated his life to teaching young children how to play golf. In terms of physical benefits there are three areas that golf helps improve and these are stability skills, manipulative and object control skills, and awareness.

 

Stability skills refer to agility, balance, coordination and speed. These are key skills in the game of golf as it is all about hand eye coordination and excellent balance. Manipulative and object control skills are being able to strike, catch or throw an object and in the case of golf, the dexterity golfers have with clubs comes in very handy. Lastly, awareness is of paramount importance in golf. Spatial awareness and kinesthetic awareness are sensory skills that your body uses to know where it is in space.
Many structures in your body have nerve receptors that send specific information to the brain. Structures such as your inner ear tell the brain information about the head’s orientation to gravity, accelerations, decelerations, and direction of movement. You’re eyes provide depth perception, and a visual surveillance of objects around you. Your muscles have a variety of receptors that tell the brain information like; how much tension is in the muscle, how long or stretched the muscle is, how fast the muscle is moving, and most importantly what position its associated joint is in. Coupling this with other factors such as golf rules, these skills are decisive in determining whether the ball is going to end up 3 meters from the pin or in the water hazard.

 

It is also important to remember that these skills can be applied to any sport not just golf. Whether it is rugby, football, cricket or netball, all these skills are incredibly useful throughout all the various phases of these sports.

Moreover, the physical benefit of just being outside, surrounded by the gorgeous green environment is priceless. This also aids in allowing young children to breathe in good air (depending on where you live) and enjoy the outdoors.

 swing

Benefits – Mental

 

Bobby Jones once said, “golf is a game that is played on a five inch course – the distance between your ears.”

 

Golf is very much a mental game. It is a game where you have to stop and think, strategise and assess situations that are within the framework of very complex rules. This requires the development of mental skills such as problem solving, risk assessment and determination.

 

Problem solving comes in very handy when you are faced with bunkers, water hazards, wind, and other obstacles and you have to reach the green. Golfers are required to think strategically to find the most efficient way of reaching the pin with the fewest strokes within the limitations at hand. Risk assessment as well is useful as it allows golfers to evaluate the cost/benefit of one type of approach as opposed to another. Should a golfer try and hit the ball over the lake and straight onto the green or allow another stroke to go around the lake? It depends on a series of factors including wind direction and speed, and a conviction in one’s own skills and abilities. Lastly, determination might seem fairly obvious in golf but it is absolutely fundamental. Being a sport where golfers solely depend on themselves, they have to be determined that they will achieve their objectives.

With determination also comes perseverance and conviction. Golfers practice, practice and practice again with a clear goal in mind.

 

All three of these skills are great to develop at a young age as they contribute to improving one’s life at every stage of its evolution.

 

Benefits – Social

 

But golf isn’t only about excellent motor skills and great mental abilities. Golf is also about rules, etiquette, respect and integrity.

The game of golf teaches children the principles of honesty and integrity. These are lessons that will help them deal with situations both at school and at home and interact with people in the real world. Golf is one of the few sports where one has to self impose rules and penalties. The rules and regulations of the game are varied, complex and at times dependent upon specific contexts. For a golfer to learn the rules and apply them to their game with the aim of improving and competing fairly is a true representation of honesty and integrity.

Respect is also taught through learning the game of golf. Respect for others through sportsmanship but also for the environment that surrounds us. Repairing divots and raking bunkers are a way to allow for other golfer to enjoy the course as previous golfers did. Not only, but being on time and waiting for the group in front of you to progress through the course is common etiquette. This is a sign of respect and civility. In life, you treat others the same way you want to be treated in order to live in a respectful and civil society. In the same way, young children are taught not to litter on golf courses as a great deal of effort goes into the maintenance and cleaning of them.

First Tee, an educational company in the US, has as their main mission to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. They have been incredibly successful in rolling this program out across the country and have received excellent feedback from both the children who have participated and their parents.

 

It goes without saying that these key traits of respect, honesty, integrity and working both alone and in a team are fully transferrable to the real world for both children and parents.

 

father and son wfcc 

Every Sunday, Lang Doolan, WFCC Club Pro, holds a Junior Clinic for over 20 children at the Wentworth Falls Country Club. Lang is an experienced golfing instructor and truly enjoys spending time with kids to instill in them the same passion he has for the game. Typically groups reach around 20 children from as young as 4 years of age and parents are encouraged to engage in the activities with them. Tom Daniels is one of the parents of two children that attend Lang’s clinic. Tom is a firm believer in sports as a way of educating the young ones for the present and the future.

 

The clinics are well structured and offer children the opportunity to both learn the principles of golf but also to spend quality time with their parents. Tom mentions how involved parents are and how they truly adore spending one on one time with their kids.

 

Both Lang and Tom believe that golf can help young ones in their development and wish to spread the concept to encourage other kids and parents to participate in the Sunday sessions.

 

Conclusion

 

Golf is a game that is generally associated with a more senior demographic, usually ranging from the mid 40s onward. It has, however, been proven that the game can be beneficial to a younger crowd from various perspectives. These benefits are most certainly decisive in the development of children and young adults.

 

The Wentworth Falls Country Club is an establishment that is focused on engaging the local community in order to improve their experience of living in the Blue Mountains. Matt Lark, Secretary Manager of the WFCC, has worked hard to uphold this core belief and encourages all young ones to participate in the Sunday Junior Clinics.

 

Should you wish to learn more about the Clinics please contact the Club on 02 47571202 and ask to speak with Lang in the Pro Shop. Furthermore, we would love to hear your point of view and if you have any comments please leave them below, comment on Facebook or email us on wentworthfallscc@gmail.com.

 

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How do you get back into shape and stay fit?

People on treadmill

The thought of getting back on a treadmill after years of inactivity seems daunting to some and unimaginable to many. We go to work, come home, take care of the endless chores, occasionally go out with friends and struggle to find time to rest.

Many of us go through stages in life where fitness and health fall off the priority list and we use excuses such as ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’ll look into it next week’ to brush off any chance of even contemplating exercising.  But have we ever stopped to think what the benefits are and what it would take to lead a healthy life style? The truth is it’s not that hard to get back on the fitness bandwagon so long as you are motivated.

Why get back into shape?

Patricia Cree (Pat) and Fiona Morrison (Fi), freshly appointed personal trainers at the Wentworth Falls Country Club gym, strongly believe that by incorporating an element of exercise in your lifestyle you may feel better mentally and physically thus improving your business and personal life and living longer. One key aspect of exercising is that it releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good, so not only are you losing weight or getting into shape but you are more upbeat too!

According to WJ Kraemer, ‘proper exercise prescription may result in improved body composition, physical performance, heart condition and health outcomes’.

Furthermore a gradual progression into fitness strengthens and stretches your muscles and reduces your body fat thus in turn reducing your aches and pains.  Many people have lower back pains from sitting down at a desk all day or from bad posture, getting back into shape will help take care of this as well.

Another element of fitness that is often discounted is that you get to meet people. Whether you sign up to the gym or to a zumba class you will inevitably socialize with others and hopefully feel motivated by likeminded people.

So what is the first step?

If you’re thinking you have to lose 20 pounds for a wedding or to fit back into your swimsuit – think again. Getting back into shape is not about the quick fix solution that will leave you dissatisfied, hungry and worse off than when you started. It is about finding a long-term motivation like feeling better, performing better at work or enjoying your personal life more. A motivation backed by a number of goals is essential as it allows you to monitor your progress and see whether your efforts match your expectations. So the first step is to determine your goals and be convinced that you will keep at it (as Tim Frazer would say) in the long run.

A simple way to start off is by making fitness part of your everyday life. Do you drive to work every day? Why don’t you walk for ten minutes and hop on a bus instead. That way you will have included 20 minutes of exercise in your day, 5 days a week. Do you live close enough to walk to the shops rather than drive? That adds another 15 minutes each way plus the exercise involved in carrying the bags back home. Making exercise an integral part of your daily routines becomes essential in achieving your fitness goals and sticking with them.

You’re sold on fitness and walk to work. What’s next? 

The next step would be to assess your level of fitness. It is always advisable to have a chat with a personal trainer when assessing one’s fitness level as we might be slightly biased. We might think we are reasonably fit given the fact that we used to be footie champions back in school but this might actually be misleading. This is more so the case for people who have not been active for quite a while.

assessment-fitness-training

A personal trainer will be able to identify your level of training and inform you as to what the best exercises are to achieve your goal. Furthermore they may also put together a training program especially tailored to your needs. The training program is fundamental as it allows you to follow a routine from warming up to cooling down and to vary exercises daily in order to include all muscle groups.

Putting together a training program doesn’t take long and saves you a lot of time researching exercises and sticking to them.

Maintaining constant levels of motivation can be tough, especially at the beginning, which is when most people give up. How many of us have started a sport convinced it would be for the long term and have thrown in the towel soon after? Again, motivation is key and a way to keep it alive is with a personal trainer.

Personal trainers are fitness professionals involved in exercise prescription and instruction. Their main role is that of motivating clients by helping achieve goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. They can also measure their client’s strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. A personal trainer can also ensure you learn safe and effective exercise techniques. Personal trainers inspire you to exercise harder and better thus getting back into shape in a shorter period of time.

It’s not just fitness though – you need a cohesive approach

Some of us might think that’s great, I’ll exercise every day for an hour and I’ll be fit in no time! Getting back into shape is about analyzing and modifying all the aspects that may have an effect on your health and fitness.

What you eat and drink is one of the primary ones. Following a balanced diet, minimizing ‘empty’ calories such as soft drinks and eating less but more often is a good start. Fi and Pat are very knowledgeable in this as well and may assist you in putting together a healthy and exciting diet for you and possibly your family.

Sleep is also very important. You may think you are doing everything right from a fitness and food perspective, but if you are not resting adequately your body has not time to reenergize and regroup. Short periods and poor quality of sleep can lead to the release of hormones that regulate your feeling of hunger, namely leptin and ghrelin according to Dr. Rapaport from the University School of Medicine of New York. One of the studies showed that ‘when sleep was restricted, leptin levels went down and ghrelin levels went up. Not surprisingly, the men’s appetite also increased proportionally. Their desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods increased by a whopping 45%’.

Fiona and Patricia have recently joined the Wentworth Falls Country Club gym as Personal Trainers and are looking forward to meeting members and visitors alike.  We would love to hear your stories related to getting back into shape so please feel free to leave a comment below or come into the WFCC gym and have a chat with Pat and Fi.

Pat and Fi

Best of luck with your endeavours and don’t forget to keep at it!


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What is the Yulefest and why do we celebrate it in the Blue Mountains?

Yulefest image

A crackling open fire, the gentle scent of mulled wine and a delicious roast dinner are usually something you would experience in the winter months in northern European countries. For over 30 years, Wentworth Falls and the Blue Mountains has been a tourist destination for people who wish to escape the frantic crowds of the city and savour the warm atmosphere created by cosy fires, succulent food and amazing surroundings.

Every year, all throughout the months of June, July and August, the Blue Mountains celebrate the ‘Yulefest’ commonly referred to as Christmas in July. On the Saturday closest to the Winter Solstice, the Winter Magic Festival takes over the streets of Katoomba with a celebration that includes a street parade, music, market stalls and cultural events.

The winter months in the Blue Mountains are splendid, as the crisp, dry weather truly lends itself to a relaxing game of golf at the Wentworth Falls Country Club with friends followed by a mouth watering roast lunch or dinner.

But where did all this originate and what does Yulefest really mean?

What does Yule mean?

Yule is a Pagan festival also called the Winter Solstice celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, the Sun God and honouring the Horned God. On Yule we experience the longest night of the year. Although much of the winter’s harshest weather is still ahead of us, we celebrate the coming light, and thank the Gods for seeing us through the longest night. It is a time to look on the past year’s achievements and to celebrate with family and friends. From this day until Midsummer, the days grow longer, everyday banishing the darkness a little more in a glow of the warm sunlight that brings the world to life again. This day is the official first day of winter. The specific day varies from year to year depending on when the Sun reaches the southern most point in its yearly trek.

This type of festivity has been celebrated around the world for millennia under different names and with different traditions.

Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus – the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.

Winter festivals were common in ancient Greece and ancient Rome, as well as in the British Isles. Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honour of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honour an agricultural god.

When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.

The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.

The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.

Origins of the Blue Mountains Yulefest

The story behind the origins of the celebration of Christmas in July or Yulefest, is quite interesting as the concept and adoption of the idea by local operators came about by accident.

In 1980 a group of Irish tourists were visiting the Blue Mountains in an attempt to find the clear crisp winter climate they were used to back in Ireland. While relaxing in the Mountain Heritage in front of a roaring fire they noticed snowflakes falling from the sky and the wind blowing the flakes around.  They immediately thought of Christmas in the northern hemisphere.  “Celebrating Christmas in Australia during the heat of summer just doesn’t feel quite the same”, one of the group explained to Garry Crockett, their host and the owner of Mountain Heritage. Garry, being of Irish descent himself, recalled the stories his father Bill would recount depicting frosted windows, Christmas feasts of turkey, hams, mince pies and steaming plum puddings, and choiristers joining together singing the joys of the festive season.

christmas_turkey

Garry, in order to please his Irish guests, decided to provide them with what they had requested. Hence the preparations got under way with the hanging of decorations throughout the hotel, even a Christmas tree found and trimmed. Over the weeks of planning, many curious guests enquired as to all the activity… they thought it was some kind of Irish joke – you just don’t have Christmas in the middle of the year!

Garry explained the significance of the occasion that a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings, was soon to happen for a group of homesick Irish people. Word began to spread far and wide of this most unusual “out-of-season” festive event at Mountain Heritage and enquiries from other interested parties, who also wanted to enjoy such a wonderful original occasion, began flowing in.

This idea was so popular that other operators in the Blue Mountains followed suit and started offering ‘Christmas in July’ products and services. Within a few years, the celebration of Yulefest had well and truly been embraced and adopted.

Come celebrate Christmas in July in the Blue Mountains!

Now that you know what Yulefest means and how it originated in the Blue Mountains you have no excuse not to come to Wentworth Falls and enjoy all that this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.

Round up your friends and family, pack your golf clubs and join in the Yulefest celebrations!

Yulefest_Blue_Mountains

Please let us know your thoughts by commenting below and don’t forget to follow us on social media.


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5 benefits of playing golf

Are you considering taking up the game of golf? Are you an intermediate golfer? Are you a professional golf player? Read on.

Golf can be a great investment in your health, potentially increasing your life expectancy by 5 years according to a 2008 Swedish medical university research. Not only, but if you are a really good golfer, you increase your chances of living longer even more! Just another reason to make sure you keep on practicing as Dale Burnett, the club professional at WFCC, would say!

Most professional golfers these days are fine athletes because of the physical and mental demands that are required at the highest levels in the sport. For the amateur or intermediate player, these benefits are not dissimilar.  An 18 round game of golf is equivalent to walking for approximately 8 kilometers and if you carry your clubs you will burn almost 1500 calories. Not bad considering you are outdoors enjoying the weather and chatting with friends!

Just to give you an example – the golf swing itself requires a turning of the torso that is great for the back and the abs and will keep you slender and in shape. But golf isn’t just good for your physical fitness – it’s also a great game for the mind. It keeps you sharp, provides you with much-needed human contact and much more.

The 5 main reasons golf is good for you are:

1 Golf is good exercise

It might seem like golfers casually stroll around the golf course, stop, hit a ball and keep on going. In actual fact, while playing golf you would usually exceed 10,000 steps which is the guideline for exercise recommended by medical experts to maintain good health.

Your core muscles, your abdomen and your back are all exercised together with your arms and legs during a typical golf drive.  During the golf swing the body fully turns back and forth with each full movement. After 18 holes, you might have repeated this exercise at least 60 times (unless you’re Tiger Woods) and if you add practicing at the driving range, this number may be much higher.

Also, you will be burning quite a lot of calories, especially if you carry your own clubs and the course is hilly! A round of golf is equivalent to a one-hour workout in the gym but without the monotony and repetitiveness of the treadmill or the rowing machine.

2 Golf stimulates your brain

Have you ever missed that 1 meter putt at the end of your round and blamed it on concentration? Golf is a strategic game that requires a great deal of mental sharpness and coordination in order to end up on top.

By calculating that odd shot, considering all the variables that may affect the ball in the air or on the ground or even adding up your score, you are keeping your brain sharp. No matter how old (or young) you are, golf will always challenge your mind teaching you to stay calm and collected so as to make that birdie look smooth and simple.

In addition, an abundant supply of fresh air will help you to keep cool under pressure when deciding the best strategy for your next shot.

3 Golf helps you reduce your stress levels

You’ve had a tough week at work and that project you’ve been working on for months needs to be presented on Monday morning.  You call your golf partner, tee off early on Saturday morning and let those endorphins start kicking in! That’s what golf is all about.

Just taking that stroll out into the open green field, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying a bit of sun can really stimulate your body to produce endorphins, the feel good hormones that will boost your mood naturally in a way no anti-depressant ever could.

Being away from the usual stresses of modern life such as mobile phones can really help you relax and reduce your stress levels.

4 Golf is a social and family sport

Golfing is a great way to spend time with friends, family or colleagues in a relaxed environment away from the office or home. This however does not mean that business deals are not conducted while playing a round of golf, quite the contrary. In numerous countries around the world golf is commonly practiced with the intent of improving business relations or even sealing an important business deal. Few other sports allow you to spend various hours outdoors strolling in a beautiful and peaceful environment and engaging in conversation.

When golfing with friends and family alike, you have the chance to bond over a low impact, high interaction sport. Unlike tennis where you are too far to have a chat while playing and too exhausted to have a chat between games, golf is ideal when it comes to improving interpersonal relations.

5 Golf improves your bone health

Spending a few hours outdoors on a beautiful sunny day is a great way for your body to produce vitamin D.  As an essential vitamin for bone health, for regulating the growth in skin cells and regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, Vitamin D should not be underestimated. Many Australians choose to take tablets or supplements to top up their vitamin D levels although there is nothing better than a wonderful game of golf with your friends on a sunny day.

Just don’t forget to take the necessary precautions with regards to sunlight! Always apply 30+ sunscreen at least 25 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun, wear a hat and bring an umbrella if needed in case there is no shade on the fairway.

So don’t procrastinate, get on the golf course and by this time next month you will be fitter, healthier and happier!