Golf and Health

Improving Lives Through Golf Memories

The R&A
16 Apr 19
5m read

Francesco Molinari’s Open triumph at Carnoustie last summer proved a memorable entry to the history books – and it’s in the Angus town where going down memory lane is helping improve people’s lives.

Molinari’s notable feat in becoming the first Italian to win a major championship is among the many golfing highlights recalled by a local 15-strong group who meet every month in the new Links House. With an average age of 78, they go down memory lane, looking at photos of past Open champions at Carnoustie such as Molinari, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tom Watson, as well as sharing stories of their own golfing achievements. They also strike a ball in the simulator bays, play ‘The Nestie’ short six-hole par-3 course or try the public putting green, all this is in competition for their own ‘Claret Jug’ monthly award.

Golf Memories Project

This is the Carnoustie Golf Memories Group, launched in 2015. Other groups springing up at golf facilities across the country include Noah’s Ark in Perth, and in St Andrews. The British Golf Museum, which is part of The R&A’s group of companies, and Alzheimer Scotland have also come together to run a new monthly social group at the Home of Golf. The groups are part of the overall Golf Memories Project, which in turn is part of the wider Sports Heritage Scotland network helping those living with dementia and memory loss. Scotland currently leads the world in reminiscence therapy. Football, cricket, curling, rugby and shinty are among the sports also involved, a collaborative effort of reminiscence groups to stir memories, fulfil lives and also encourage participants back into the sports they love.

Changed attitudes

“Through reminisce, we are reconnecting the members with their passion for golf through spending meaningful time with other golfers and enjoying the friendly banter”, says Lorraine Young, a key driving force for the golf group in Carnoustie. “After a diagnosis, it can very much feel like a loss of life, however this programme is helping people change their attitudes by demonstrating that you can live well with dementia or memory loss. “Staff working at Carnoustie Golf Links have also participated in Dementia Friends Awareness Sessions, as have a number of other businesses throughout the town. Ultimately the aim is to make Carnoustie a truly Dementia Friendly Community.”  A former Chief Social Work Officer for Angus and a Rotarian, Lorraine chose to commit her free time to creating and supporting the development of Golf Memories. The group is ably supported by a committed and dedicated team of local volunteers, such as David Taylor, Trevor Williamson and Margaret Muir.

TPC Sawgrass

“As well as reminisce, they are also getting back into the physical act of playing golf,” explains Lorraine. “For many, when they have a diagnosis of dementia, they believe they can’t play golf anymore or have a place in clubs. What we’re trying to do is show that physical activity and social interaction are very important by supporting members to reconnect with what for many has been a lifelong passion.” Recently, the world-famous TPC Sawgrass course saw the launch of the Pete Dye Chapter Golf Memories group, inspired by the pioneering work being achieved at Carnoustie Golf Links.