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WFCC Club Patron – Winston Pickering

WFCC Club Patron – Winston Pickering


The Club Patron at golf Clubs has, in the history of Australian Golf Clubs, evolved quite significantly over the years. Across the country there are numerous Club Patrons of remarkable caliber such as Peter Thomson at the Nomads Golf Club in Perth who was one of the most astounding golfers of all times. However, the role of the Patron is not only that of representing the Club from a golfing perspective. There are many other roles and functions that the Patron carries out throughout their tenure. This year, at the Wentworth Falls Country Club Annual General Meeting, Winston Pickering was elected as Club Patron. Winston has been a member for many years and has always been both an avid golfer and a strong supporter of the Club.

Winston Pickering and Jok Galt

As homage to his involvement with the Wentworth Falls Country Club over the years, we will explore the significance of the Club Patron and review Winston’s milestones and contributions.


What is a Club Patron?


Nowadays the role and function of a Club Patron is merely representative. They are called upon to support the Club with their presence and to diligently promote the Club through their contacts and word of mouth. Furthermore, Patrons are well known figures in the community and their values and traits often coincide with the values and principles of the Club itself.

This role has changed quite considerably over time.


Historically, Club Patrons had a more prominent position within the management of the Club as they were called upon to support the Club financially in the event of poor performance. It would be challenging to find Club Patrons nowadays, had that still been the case, as many golf Clubs are in financial hardship and require conspicuous amounts of investment to return to a profitable position.


Club Patrons were typically reasonably wealthy and well connected in the community. Furthermore, they were expected to have a substantial amount of influential contacts to aid the Club in achieving their financial, golf related and community-focused objectives.


Who is Winston Pickering?


Winston Pickering has always truly enjoyed the Blue Mountains and used to often visit Wentworth Falls prior to the 1970s. He would regularly stay at a private boarding house called the Lilacs that was off the 3rd hole of the WFCC golf course. Soon after marrying his beloved wife Jeannette, he moved up to Leura in the late 1970s after a fascinating career in the real estate business.


Winston was principal and co-owner of Top Ryde Real estate which operated in metropolitan Sydney. Winston also operated in real estate in many suburbs as far afield as Ashfield, Maroubra, Double Bay and Ryde. He was also very active in the real estate community as Chairman of the Property Management Division of the Real Estate Institute for many years and a member of the Fair Rents Advocate.


Interestingly, he was also active from an academic perspective, lecturing at Sydney University and the Real Estate Institute on property management.

His accolades are numerous and his success was recognised in both the professional and academic worlds.


He joined the Wentworth Falls Country Club in 1961 having fallen in love with the Blue Mountains and wanting to spend more time on the golf course.


In 1968 he joined the Committee and was appointed Club Captain. He maintained this position for 15 years. Subsequently he was elected President of the Club in 1983 and held this position for 15 years until 1998. He was reelected President in 2004 until 2005 for a grand total of 53 years as member, 15 as Captain and 17 as President. In addition, Winston has been the Blue Mountains District Golf Association Captain for 10 years and President for 17 years. What an absolutely impressive career he has had!


From a golfing perspective Winston has been an avid golfer since day 1. He has always been active on the course at least 3 times a week and has achieved some remarkable results throughout his golfing career. He has been a successful A Grade Pennant Captain 3 times and a successful Senior masters Captain as well. Worthy of mention is also his astounding record of 11 hole in ones during his golfing career.


All in all Winston Pickering has excelled in various areas from a personal, professional and golfing point of view.


Why was Winston chosen?


Matt Lark, Secretary Manager at the Wentworth Falls Country Club was asked to pinpoint three traits that make Winston an excellent Patron for the Club. Having known him for over 10 years, Matt confidently answered by stating that he is first off a very dedicated individual. It is uncommon to find people who serve on Committees for over 3 decades, especially people who serve over 15 years as President and then get reelected for a second term.


Secondly Matt mentioned how passionate Winston is about golf. Winston has been frequenting the Clubhouse and the golf course for 53 years, making him one of the most senior members at the Club. Only a handful of people throughout the history of WFCC have received life membership and Winston is most definitely a worthy member. In relation to golf, Winston has been on the course at least 3 times a week and to this day, even though he is over the age of 80 he still golfs. As a golfer he has achieved great recognition and noteworthy positions within the local community as detailed above.


Matt also mentioned that Winston has many positive traits and acts as a pillar of golfing tradition in the Upper Blue Mountains. Although he lives in Leura, Winston has always supported the Wentworth Falls Country Club and has been present for almost every social event. Being such a tight nit community, Winston has undoubtedly had a pivot role at spreading the word about the Club and involving family and friends in the promotion of its facilities and events. Matt is very grateful to Winston for all his efforts throughout the years and the continued support both on and off the golf course.

winston pickering PATRON TESTI

WFCC and the importance of the Community

The WFCC is committed to providing the Community with a friendly and professional environment for members to engage in social and sporting activities.


The Wentworth Falls Country Club is delighted to have nominated Winston Pickering as the Club Patron and believes Winston will proudly represent the values of the Club in the Community.


Should you wish to offer your support and commend Winston for his nomination please comment below. We would also be delighted to hear if you have any great stories of classic golfing and WFCC Clubhouse moments featuring Winston Pickering.

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Choosing the perfect place to tie the knot? Look no further.

Wedding at WFCC

When Emma Halpin had to choose the venue for the most important day of her life, she was faced with a daunting decision to be made. Where would be the most suitable place for her wedding ceremony and reception? Having grown up in the upper Blue Mountains she was set on finding the ideal venue in and around the Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba area. But how exactly did she make that decision? Brides-to-be put a great deal of effort and time into selecting wedding venues and making sure that their day is memorable to say the least. More often than not they will choose venues that are geographically located in the city or town where they were born or grew up. But still, the choice is abundant. Also, its not only about the place, its also about other aspects such as cost, facilities and professionalism.

The planning of a wedding is admittedly an incredibly stressful task and can put a significant strain on the relationship between the bride and groom to be. Every bride dreams of a smooth ceremony and reception in a sensational setting with glorious food while surrounded by their loving family and friends. But how does this all come together seamlessly? And how do you reduce the chances of things going wrong?

According to a number of wedding publications including the Wedding Notebook and the Knot, there are three types of criteria that are essential to choosing your perfect wedding venue.


Topping almost all of the resources’ lists is working within an acceptable budget and sticking to it. Staying within your budget and not breaking the bank is critical. Emma researched a great deal of venues in the upper Blue Mountains and was astounded by the astronomical costs of hosting a wedding ceremony and reception. When calculating what needs to be included and what could be done without, costs can escalate very quickly. So how do you obtain that peace of mind knowing that you have set aside a budget for that special day and do not wish to spend more? Emma Halpin got married in December of 2011 at the Wentworth Falls Country Club and truly had a memorable experience. One of her main concerns was that of not exceeding a set budget. This issue was one of the first ones addressed by Matt Lark at the Club. Emma and Matt agreed on what needed to be delivered and how much it would cost, without any surprises.  Most resources suggest to read the contract and its fine print and make sure you agree on a final figure that includes any extras or additional costs.


The second most important element when selecting a venue is making sure that the staff that will be running the show are competent and professional. The last thing the bride wants to do is stress about how her guests are being dealt with. Professional staff will be informing both the bride and groom and the guests as to the sequence of service and what will happen next. But what if something goes wrong? What if the band couldn’t make it because their car broke down or the lights go out or it suddenly starts to pour down with rain? Having professional staff will allow the bride to assume a certain degree of ‘tranquillity’ knowing that her special day and her guests are being handled with the upmost professionalism. With staff at a venue you can immediately gauge how switched on and organized they are as they have checklists, run sheets, info packs, ‘oops gifts’ and all the other necessary tools to run an event as the bride wants it to be run. Emma Halpin was overwhelmed by the way the Wentworth Falls Country Club staff dealt with her needs and requests. Matt Lark was pivotal in making sure that all bases were covered and the event would unfold as planned. During the ceremony on the 4th tee of the golf course, a loud power tool was switched on a property nearby. The staff members were on to it in a heat-beat and managed to restore the peaceful setting that typifies the Wentworth Falls area.



The third element that really has an impact on whether the wedding reception is going to be a success or a flop is how accommodating and flexible the venue staff are. Brides will have many parts of the event that they will want to tailor to their needs including seating arrangement, access to facilities and use of equipment. Emma was blessed to have her mother Sue Barry to help her with most of the organisation of the event. Sue has a great deal of experience in the hospitality industry and was able to collaborate with WFCC staff on various fronts. Both Sue and Emma acknowledged how accommodating the WFCC staff were to their many requests.  Also, with any sort of event, anything could go wrong. It is up to the staff to be able to communicate efficiently and swiftly with the decision makers in order to find solutions. Many other splendid couples who tied the knot at the WFCC expressed the same sort of appreciation towards the staff at the Club. Being such an important day, brides want to be sure that they are in good hands and that they can rely on the staff knowing how to deal with situations in the best way possible.

wedding golf

These have been identified as some of them most important elements to take into consideration. There is also one other aspect that should be mentioned at this stage and that is the full integration between suppliers and venue staff. The bride and groom want to be sure that there is full cooperation between suppliers such as florists, bands and the venue staff so as to provide that unique and memorable experience without any hiccups. Raegan Carroll recently tied the knot at the Wentworth Falls Country Club and her thoughts were similar to Emma’s. She was overwhelmed by the organisation and professionalism of the staff that gave her peace of mind and the ability to fully enjoy her special day.

The fact that a turnkey solution could be offered was greatly appreciated. Guests are taken care of from start to finish including accommodation, transport, special needs (juniors, seniors, etc.) and all the details that could rapidly put anyone off even attempting to organise a wedding.

What has your experience been with you wedding ceremony and reception? Did you find that the above points were the most important ones or did you find other key aspects? We would love to hear from you so please comment below.

The Wentworth Falls Country Club specialises in functions and events, weddings, wakes, anniversaries, birthdays, product launches, corporate days and is capable of accommodated your needs to meet and exceed your expectations. For further information please contact us on (02) 47571202 and ask to speak with our functions coordinator – Jackie Colquhoun.

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Local Heroes: Laurie McCracken


The bushfire period has just commenced and the residents of the Blue Mountains are reminded to stay alert and be prepared to act should fires be directed their way. Bush fires have accounted for over 800 deaths in Australia since 1851 and the total accumulated cost in damages is estimated at $2.5 billion according to the Bureau of Transport and Economics report. Just recently in Springwood 193 houses were burnt down, 109 damaged and over 3623 hectares went up in flames. Hundreds of firemen were engaged in battling the flames and some of them were injured in the process.

Laurie McCracken, Captain of the NSW Fire and Rescue team in Wentworth Falls and member of the Wentworth Falls Country Club, has been involved in fighting fires and protecting homes for over 25 years. His involvement in the community is admirable and noteworthy. Constantly on call and managing a team of over a dozen firefighters, Laurie takes us through his vocation, his achievements and a few tips on how to be prepared for the bushfire season.

Laurie McCracken is a Blue Mountains native, born in Katoomba and having lived in Wentworth Falls since 1974. He explains how, at a very young age, he watched firefighters in 1957 from a window at St Canice’s Primary School in Katoomba while they attempted to contain the mighty force of the bush fires that claimed over 600 homes in the Blue Mountains. These bush fires were arguably the most devastating this area has ever witnessed and most certainly not the only incident that has happened over the years.

As a young boy Laurie remembers watching the firefighters in awe and remembering the heroic actions that allowed many lives to be saved during that tragic series of episodes. In his early manhood he was introduced to the world of firefighters by his uncle who was a well-respected fireman in the local community. From that day he found his vocation to help the community.

Laurie joined the  NSW Fire and Rescue in Wentworth Falls as a volunteer in 1986 and progressed through the ranks from engine keeper to Deputy Captain in 1998 and all the way to Captain in 2011 after 25 years of service.

His achievements

Laurie McCracken was awarded a commendation for his efforts leading a team in Task Force Valentine for 5 days during the Victorian bush fires in 2009.

Many Australians will remember these fires as The Black Saturday bush fires where a series of fires ignited and were burning across the Australian state of Victoria on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire-weather conditions and resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire; 173 people died and 414 were injured as a result of the fires.

As many as 400 individual fires were recorded on 7 February. Following the events of 7 February 2009 and its aftermath, that day has become widely referred to as Black Saturday.

It was estimated that the amount of energy released during the firestorm in the Kinglake-Marysville area was equivalent to the amount of energy that would be released by 1,500 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs according to Gary Hughes from The Australian. However direct comparisons between explosives and fires in units of energy released is meaningless, as explosives release their energy almost instantly in a fast pulse, in contrast to a fire, which releases its energy far more slowly – over minutes, hours and days.

Beyond the casualty list detailed above, physical damage caused by the bush fires included: 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) burnt, 7,562 people displaced and over 3,500 structures destroyed.

Laurie has received many other commendations for his involvement in fighting fires in and around New South Wales including Lithgow and Woodford.

Laurie McCracken

What are the main factors effecting bushfires

A bushfire is a fire that burns in grass, bush or woodland and can threaten life, property and the environment. Where the suburbs or urban development meet the rural lands is of particular concern to fire services as it places a great number off our community at high risk from bushfire each year.

Fuel – Anything that burns is fuel for a fire, in particular leaf litter (which is the accumulation of leaves, twigs, bark and rubbish on the ground), undergrowth (shrubs, grass, seedlings), trees and other vegetation. Other structures (such as houses, stables, sheds etc.) are also considered fuel and any other object that will burn when exposed to flames; such as gas bottles, piles of firewood, tyres, etc.

When we talk about fuels we often refer to their height. This is because fuels are found on the ground all the way up to the top of the trees, and where there are fuels fire can burn so fires can be quite small but can also reach up to 30 metres. An important term to understand is ladder fuels, which is any vegetation that grows between the ground fuel up to about 2 metres. This vegetation provides a path, or ladder, for a fire to travel up, taking the flames from the ground right up into the tree tops, essentially growing the fire from 1-2 metre flames right up to 30 metre flames.

Weather – Weather plays a major role in the severity of bush fires. The hotter and dryer the weather is, the more likely it is for a bush fire to start and spread quickly. Most bush fires start in the afternoon, when it is driest and hottest.

Wind speed and humidity – Wind speed can influence a bush fire by pushing the fire forward, the stronger the wind the faster the bush fire can spread. Wind can also dry out the air by reducing the moisture, this is called “low humidity”. When there is low humidity the danger of dry lightning (lightning from a storm that brings little or no rain) starting a bushfire is very high.

Topography / slope – Topography is the slope of the land and it plays a major factor in bushfire behaviour. Very simply, a bushfire will move up much faster up a slope and slow down as it goes down a slope. With all factors being equal, a bushfire will actually double the rate at which it spreads for each 10 degrees that a slope increases.

Laurie’s tips

If bushfire threatens your home here are some precautionary steps as recommended by the Fire and Rescue Service and Laurie.

1. Preparing your home

– Regularly clean leaves from gutters and fit quality metal leaf guards. Screen vents on roof voids with fine metal wire mesh.

– Keep woodpiles and other flammable materials well away from the house and covered.

– Keep your lawn short and the backyard tidy, free from any build up of flammable material.

– Consider purchasing a portable pump to use from your swimming pool or water tank.

2. In case of evacuation

– Turn off gas and power.

– Close all doors and windows and block gaps with wet towels or blankets.

– Move flammable curtains and furniture away from windows.

– Notify a neighbour, friend or the local authorities of your new address.

3. Survival kit: should include the following items:

– A portable battery radio, torch and spare batteries; water containers, dried or canned food and a can opener;

– Matches, fuel lamp, portable stove, cooking gear, eating utensils; and

– A first aid kit and manual, masking tape for windows and waterproof bags.

4. During the fire

– Wear protective clothing such as enclosed shoes, wool or cotton full-length clothing for protection, a hat and gloves. Close all windows and doors.

– Have eye and breathing protection.

– Ensure all family members and pets consume enough water to prevent dehydration.

– Ensure that someone has notified the fire brigade by ringing 000.

– Do not under any circumstances leave the house while the flame front moves through.

5. After the fire

– You can go outside and extinguish any spot fires in gutters etc.

– Beware of any electric power lines that may have dropped on the ground.

– If you cannot extinguish the fire move all family members to a burnt out area.

– If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe, protect the fire site from any further damage by weather, theft or vandalism. Do not leave the site unsecured.

call 000

Its thanks to the hard work, vigilance and dedication of people like Laurie McCracken that lives and homes are saved in our communities during bushfire periods, year after year. The forecast for this year is fairly bleak as this past week has registered some of the worst fires in the past decade.  If you have a comment or a story to share please comment below and the Wentworth Falls Country Club will be sure to pass it on to our local hero: Laurie McCracken.

Be vigilant, be prepared and be safe.

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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.


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.


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!


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

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WFCC Success Story: Edwina Kennedy

father-son-golf 2

How old were you when you first started practicing a sport? Do you feel that age has a strong impact on how well you may perform throughout the years? There have been a number of studies conducted recently that demonstrate a correlation between beginning a sport at an early age and achieving outstanding results.

Only a handful of golfers at the Wentworth Falls Country Club have become members under the age of 10 and have obtained international recognition. One of the most remarkable is Edwina Kennedy. Edwina’s golfing career starts at the age of 7 and progresses rapidly reaching sensational results in Amateur golf  that have yet to be beaten to this day.

Practicing a sport at a young age

Often young children start a sport because of their geographic location, because it is practiced in school or because their parents follow or practice that sport. More often than not, sports are practiced recreationally up until an adolescent age and then other factors take over and the young individual might lose interest.

The first element to take into account when assessing sports for a child is talent. But how do you determine whether someone has a talent for a sport, especially when very young? This can be challenging to say the least but it often evolves from a strong passion for a sport.  Many studies suggest that parents should expose their children to various sports and allow them to choose rather than imposing one sport. If you grew up in Australia you most likely played rugby, cricket or soccer when growing up but what if you have a talent for horseback riding and have never been on a horse? Exposing the child to a number of different sports to be able to gauge whether there is a specific talent is therefore crucial.

Some schools of thought maintain that perseverance is the most important element of all and that as long as you stick to a sport for long enough you will succeed. This can be applied to everything in llfe, not only sports, as if someone is dedicated and enthusiastic about something they will eventually achieve recognition. Professional athletes in fact train for hours on end to improve and hone their skills to the nth degree. Not only their skill but also their physical condition must be pristine in order for them to run faster, jump higher or hit the ball farther than their opponent. Being focused and wanting to succeed as an athlete helps in sticking to a sport but not everyone has this strong mental preparation.

Another key element for success in sport is the environment you grow up in. If you grow up in the Snowy Mountains you are more likely to go skiing rather than playing baseball as a child. Similarly if you are surrounded by golf courses you are more likely to give the game of golf a go.

Edwina Kennedy is an individual who had all three of these key elements.

Early stages

Edwina’s first golf club was a cut down hickory shafted “jigger” given to her by her grandmother. During the Wentworth Falls Country Club Centenary celebrations, Edwina Kennedy was elected guest of Honour and during her speech she mentioned how the wooden golf club her grandmother gave her for her 2nd birthday triggered an interest in the game of golf. Furthermore, Edwina had a strong relationship with her grandmother who lived in Wentworth Falls and whom she visited often.

Edwina truly enjoyed visiting her grandmother and playing golf in Wentworth Falls although there weren’t many young female golfers when she decided to do so. She commenced her competitive involvement in golf at age 7 when she first joined WFCC. She used a variety of second hand clubs, and received one new golf club each birthday and Christmas. She gradually built up her set, not owning a fully matched set of clubs until she was 11 and nearly a single figure marker! One of the peculiar incidents she vividly recalls from her early stages of golf at WFCC was being reprimanded by a woman member while playing golf as there weren’t many young golfers and golf was not a game typically played by young women. But she adds that both men and women members were very friendly, extremely supportive of her golf and encouraged her greatly.

She carded under  100 at age 8. She competed in a number of Junior and Schoolgirl Championships from the age of 7 and reached a handicap of 18 at the age of 10. At 16 she won the Australian Foursomes Championships with Sue Goldsmith. She proceeded to win the Australian Junior championships 4 years in a row, 1976 to 1979.

Edwina believes that she benefitted in many ways from playing a number of sports, especially team sports, before she began to focus solely on golf after leaving school and commencing university studies. She strongly recommends this to aspiring athletes who want to maintain a balanced perspective and a rounded approach to life.

Career accolades

In 1978, on her 19th birthday, Edwina Kennedy became the first Australian in win the British Women’s Amateur Championship. Her most memorable achievement was being a member of the first Australian team, with Lindy Goggin and Jane Lock, to win the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships in Fiji in 1978.

In 1979 she became the first woman to compete in the Australian universities team championship winning each of her matches from the men’s tees. Today, the Edwina Kennedy Trophy for women’s individual stroke play is awarded regularly at the Australian University Championship for golf.


In 1980 she won the Canadian Amateur Championship and in 1985 the New Zealand Amateur Championship. She won the Australian Amateur Championship in 1986 and was losing finalist in 1979, 1984 and 1991. She represented Australia more than 30 times in 20 countries between 1977 and 1991. She was a member of the Australian team that won the 1983 Commonwealth Tournament, the Queen Sirikit Cup Asian Teams Championship in 1982, 1983, 1986.

Edwina also won the New South Wales Championships in 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1986 and represented NSW from 1977 to 1993, winning 10 times.

Edwina received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to golf in 1985. She retired from competitive golf in 1993. She married Vaughan Kirkby in 1988 and they have two children, Jack, 19 and Anna, 17.


“Work hard to achieve your dreams but remember that life is much more than winning”.

Edwina Kennedy is the perfect example of an individual who recognised their talent for a sport at an early age and with hard work and perseverance managed to achieve outstanding results. She remains to this day one of the most inspiring and successful athletes the Wentworth Falls Country Club has had the pleasure to witness.

We encourage young readers and adults with young children to share their experiences and points of view on starting a sport at a young age. The Wentworth Falls Country Club supports young players and looks forward to welcoming the new golfing generation of the future.

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Who was W. C. Wentworth and why was the Blue Mountains crossing so important?


Wentworth Falls and the Blue Mountains are not only a breathtakingly stunning part of the world but have also played a fundamental role in history in paving the way to the economic progress of Australia.

From a tiny town west of Liverpool called South Creek, 200 years ago three explorers set out to change the history and nature of the state of New South Wales. In 1813 Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth surmounted countless obstacles in crossing the Blue Mountains and managed to travel 160km in merely 21 days.

The year 2013 marks the bicentennial celebration of this crossing and a re-enactment will take place with a descendant of William Charles Wentworth.

The town of Wentworth Falls and the actual falls themselves were named after the explorer as a homage to his bold achievement and a tribute to his contributions to Australia.

With this blog we would like to review the importance of the crossing of the Blue Mountains and also focus our attention on who William Charles Wentworth was.

What is the significance of the Blue Mountains crossing?

At the beginning of the 19th century, the state of New South Wales as a colony of the British Empire was mainly inhabited on the coastlines. The economy of the state of NSW was nowhere as prominent and strong as it would become in the mid 19th century.

Furthermore, the areas surrounding the coastal settlements were principally bush and therefore hardly accessible or worthy of interest to the settlers due to their lack of colonial activity.

By the time Gregory Blaxland, Lt. William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set out, a considerable amount of information had been gathered.  Not only did they know of numerous routes which didn’t work, but they had George Caley’s observations of the main ridge, made from Mt Banks.  They also knew that the most successful efforts were those which followed ridges.

They set out, on May 11 1813, to mount the “main” ridge from Emu Plains, and followed a route similar to that of the Great Western Highway and railway to Mt Victoria. They then followed a finger ridge to Mt York, arriving late on May 28.


Although many others had tried to cross the Blue Mountains before them, they were the only ones who were successful and the only ones who were recognised as having crossed the mountains given their British colonial identity.

The most significant outcome of their exploration was the subsequent construction of a road connecting Sydney to the newly formed town of Bathurst. The reason this was so crucial is that for the first time in the history of Australia, pastoral activity was developed and exploited in inland New South Wales. This gave way to a the so called pastoral age that dominated the Australian export market for decades, roughly up to the 1960s.

The 160km road that was discovered by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth was therefore not only an opening towards the interconnectivity of NSW and a successful export industry but it also marked the beginning of the country’s exploration inland and economic expansion.

Who was William Charles Wentworth?

William Charles Wentworth, 1790 – 1872, is regarded as one of the most influential individuals of the 19th century in Australia. As a poet, explorer, journalist and politician, Wentworth spearheaded various initiatives that have shaped Australia into the great nation that it is today. Moreover, he was one of the colony’s first native born politicians who strongly believed in the rights of emancipated convicts, contributed to the establishment of trial by jury and vehemently advocated for the Australian colonies to be self-governed.

The exact date of his birth remains a matter of debate although most historians would agree that Wentworth was born on the 13th of August 1790 on board a ship docked in Norfolk island and heading toward Australia. His father, D’Arcy Wentworth belonged to an English aristocratic family that fell on hard times, and when he was acquitted of three charges of Highway Robbery he only narrowly escaped conviction of a fourth by declaring that he was moving to Botany Bay to serve as assistant surgeon to the colony. His mother, Catherine Crowley, was a 17 year old Irish girl who was being sent to Sydney following a conviction for allegedly stealing clothing.

In 1796 Wentworth moved to Paramatta where his father D’Arcy became a prosperous landowner. Soon after in 1802 William Charles was sent to England to be educated. He spent 8 years attending various schools in Buckinghamshire and Greenwich. In 1810 he returned to Sydney where he became heavily involved in the colonial life under the direction of his father. Subsequently, he was appointed acting Provost-Marshall (chief of police) by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and given a land grant of 1,750 acres on the Nepean River. This was the particular point in his life when he decided to explore the Blue Mountains and lead an expedition tracing a path from the West of Sydney to inland New South Wales. For his accomplishment he was awarded 1000 acres of land.

He soon after returned to England in 1816 to study Law, travel around Europe and complete his studies at Cambridge University. In 1819 he published his first book A Statistical, Historical, and Political Description of the Colony of New South Wales and Its Dependent Settlements in Van Diemen’s Land, With a Particular Enumeration of the Advantages Which These Colonies Offer for Emigration and Their Superiority in Many Respects Over Those Possessed by the United States of America.   In his book he argued for political reform and liberalisation and managed to be quite influential in encouraging emigration to the colony.

After returning to New South Wales in 1824, Wentworth became an increasingly important figure in colonial politics. He initially identified himself with the cause of emancipists and native-born Australians, and established the first non-government newspaper, The Australian, to agitate for their rights. Entering the New South Wales parliament in 1843, Wentworth was a leading figure in the political reforms that led to the colony of New South Wales attaining responsible government in 1853. Wentworth subsequently retired to England, where he died in 1872.


W.C. Wentworth was a towering figure measuring six feet in height and commanding a strong build. Some historians describe him as determined and driven to the extent that when he set himself a task it was only a matter of time before it was accomplished. His disposition was warm and generous and he was ready to forget quickly his resentments. He had a good knowledge of constitutional law, quick comprehension, and great logical powers united with great force and accuracy of expression. Behind all this was an immense sincerity, the real secret of his power. He passionately felt that trial by jury, a free press, and the right of the colonies to govern themselves were things worth living for and fighting for, and while he fought for these things the sword never dropped from his hand. He was the greatest man of his time and possibly the greatest man in the history of Australia.

William Charles Wentworth and the crossing of the Blue Mountains have had a strong impact in shaping the state of New South Wales and Australia throughout history. The bicentennial celebrations taking place in May 2013 are numerous and quite remarkable. We invite you all to participate in these events, to explore the Blue Mountains and to come and visit us at the Wentworth Falls Country Club for a round of golf and a delicious meal!


How do you steer clear of golf injuries?


Golf injury prevention

If you are reading this blog, you most probably have a strong passion for golf. Your love for the game means you probably play once a week or even more often. Have you ever experienced any aches or pains during or after a round of golf?

Whether you are an experienced golfer or whether you had your first golf lessons last week, you may be experiencing lower back pains, wrist aches and soar elbows. How do you treat these pains and most importantly, how do you prevent these aches and pains from occurring in the first place?

As a low impact sport, golf is not usually associated with a high rate of injury such as rugby, water polo or judo. However, many people who play golf around the world, from beginners to professionals, experience pains in various parts of their body from excessive strain and over exertion. In addition, many golfers fail to consult a doctor or seek medical advice, which may aggravate their condition and ultimately lead to a more significant injury.

You would be surprised how few golfers actually spend time undertaking simple and quick exercises to reduce their chances of injury.

By simply understanding the main causes of injury and pain and following some basic practices to avoid these from happening, golfers can enjoy the game to a greater extent and for a longer period of time.

1. Common golf injuries and treatment

Many studies have been conducted to identify the main areas of injury linked to the game of golf. One of the most reliable studies conducted on this subject matter was completed in 2004 by the Harvard Medical School.  Let’s have a look at the main areas, the symptoms and what to do to cure and prevent them from creeping back.

Lower back – 36% of golfers experience lower back pains as a result of playing golf. The motion of the golf swing alone can be the cause of a series of injuries to the lower back. Executing the motion of the golf swing over 60 times in a round of 18 holes but also bending over to pick up golf balls or fix divots may place a great deal of strain on the lumbar spine. The main symptoms of this condition are fairly obvious with shooting back pains, stiffness, muscle spasms and pain or weakness in the legs.

The first piece of advice from both the Australian Journal of Sports Medicine and the above study is to make sure your swing technique is correct. By taking a few golf lessons to correct the simple bad habits we all have could go a long way to improve your lower back problems. Other suggestions are to bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight when you follow through on your swing. Lastly, use a cart or a buggy to carry golf clubs so as to reduce the strain on your back when transitioning from hole to hole.

Elbow – Around 32% of golfers may be afflicted by elbow injuries or pain during and after having played golf. This is mainly due to gripping the club incorrectly coupled with repetitive and sudden force applied to the elbow when taking long shots such as drivers. Pain in the elbow may be a sign of muscle damage or an inflammation of tendons. The most common symptoms are pain when making a fist, weakness in the wrist and/or hand and tenderness and pain in the inner side of the forearm.

The immediate treatment for elbow pain suggested by the Australian Journal of Sports Medicine is to apply ice to the area 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time and give your golf game a rest. Should the pain be quite intense, over the counter pain relievers are recommended and a visit to the doctor could be in order. In the long run, your swing would have to be reviewed so as to determine whether your technique could be the main cause of such discomfort.

Hand and wrist – Injuries and pain in the hands and wrists are fairly common and they are more often than not connected with the repetitive impact of the head of the club with the ball, or in some cases the ground. When golfers hit the ball, the impact travels through the club and is absorbed by the hands and wrists. As the strokes mount up, they can lead to strained tendons. Over time, repetitive strain and improper wrist motion can cause fractures, sprains, and ruptured tendons that eventually cause chronic pain and decreased mobility.

Although the symptoms are fairly obvious, the immediate and long-term solutions can be varied and quite interesting. There are vibration-absorbing golf clubs that reduce the impact on the hand, which might be a life-saver for some. Secondly, by squeezing a tennis ball regularly, the hand, wrist, forearm and shoulder muscles are strengthened. Lastly, the technique. By using light grip pressure, slowing the backswing, cutting excess wrist motion and avoiding a steep downswing (potentially striking the ground) the chances of reducing hand and wrist injuries are increased.

Shoulder – The rotator cuff in the shoulder is also a quite common area that is prone to injury.  The main cause once again relates back to the golf swing and the wear and tear to the muscles and tendons. When the tears heal they create scar tissue that may hinder the desired movement and also increase the sensitivity of the whole shoulder. The main symptoms are pain in the shoulder or upper arm pain when the arm is lifted up and away from the body and pain in the front of the shoulder extending down to the elbow and forearm.

The immediate remedy to a sore shoulder is rest, icing and pain medication. Many exercises can be done however to improve the shoulder ailments over time. Physical therapy including stretching and strengthening exercises are the most common treatments for shoulder pain.

Knees and hips – Both knees and hips may come under unpleasant pressure and strain while golfing. Furthermore they may have the tendency to deteriorate should the golfer have injured these previously. Striking the ground hard during a swing can result in excruciating hip and knee pains. The main symptoms are generalized pain in the knees and hips, clicking in the knee, and swelling of the knees.

For immediate relief, the most recommended treatments are rest, icing, elevation and pain medication. However, wearing knee bandages and braces and golf shoes with short cleats can remarkably reduce the chance of injuring the knees and hips once again. Long cleats anchor your feet while you swing and could strain your knees.

As you will appreciate, while playing golf there are many areas of the body that may be strained or over exerted with repetitive and forceful swings. Having said that, there are also a number of simple exercises and techniques that can be followed to greatly reduce the chance of injury and prevent pain from getting in the way of a healthy round of golf.

Golf swing

2. Tips to reduce the chance of injury

Four things will grossly improve any golfer’s physical health and strength in the long run and in turn improve their game, namely stretching, warming up before playing, regular fitness training programs and correcting one’s swing.

Warming up and stretching before golfing has been shown to decrease the incidence of golf injuries. Apparently over 80 percent of golfers spend less than 10 minutes warming up before a round. Those who do warm up have less than half the chance of injury with respect to those who don’t warm up. Lower handicap and professional golfers were more than twice as likely to warm up for more than 10 minutes as compared to other golfers.

Flexibility, strength, and aerobic training have become increasingly popular among golfers over the past several decades. Early advocates of strength training included Gary Player, the international champion who claimed to have significantly increased the length of his drives despite his small physical stature. More recently, players like Tiger Woods have embraced strength and flexibility training and have undertaken regular fitness training programs, whereas more senior players have been exercising to improve their level of play or merely to remain competitive with younger players.

A regular exercise program that includes core strengthening, stretching and strengthening all the major muscle groups can also help decrease your injury rate and increase your playing time.

Swing mechanics also plays a very important role in decreasing the chances of injury and the improvement of one’s game. It is advisable to consult a golf pro to review one’s technique and correct any idiosyncrasies or bad habits.

Golf is a great game that is enjoyed by many around the world. Why not have a few lessons with a golf pro (possibly Lang Doolan at Wentworth Falls County Club), do a little stretching and warm up before playing if you know how important it is to keep you well clear of common golf injuries?

Also, should you desire further information about fitness training programs, Pete at the WFCC gym will be able to assist you.

Do you dedicate time and effort to injury prevention? Let us know your views by commenting below.


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!