The R&A - Working for Golf

Playing golf for mental health

For Rachel Ingram, a young mum in Hull, the sport has played a significant role.

“It totally changed my life,” she admits. “On a summer’s day there really is no better feeling then walking around a golf course. I also like that it’s a level playing field. Yes, men may drive the ball a little bit further, but if you are giving it your all and really working towards something then the success of the game is such a high.”

Ingram has seen her health and lifestyle turned around by playing and enjoying the sport. But what problems has she battled to overcome with the help of golf?

“Anxiety, depression and an eating disorder called Bulimia,” she explains. “The form I suffered from meant the thought of people watching me eat and judging me for what I was eating is what led to me feeling sick. This eventually led to a big breakdown. I couldn’t leave the house or go to work because the fear of having to eat just became overwhelming.”

Small steps

Ingram is from a family that thrives on contact sports and golf was never in her upbringing.

“It was my husband, Jon, who turned me to it,” she continues. “We needed somewhere I could go and not think about what I have to eat or what the people around me would think about me. So we tried the driving range. From the first swing something clicked. I didn’t take to it straight away and this is what became the thrill of the challenge for me.”

Once she could confidently hit a ball, it was time for her to move to the Par-3 course at Sutton Golf Club, just next to the driving range.

Love for the sport

“I was terrified. What if people were watching me? Then I saw an older man totally slice his tee shot and nobody even twitched. I thought ‘no one is bothered whether it takes me three shots or nine shots’. Before I knew it, I was hooked.”

So how has golf helped Rachel physically and mentally?

She sums up: “Mentally, I’m better than ever. Playing golf was the very first step in overcoming a big mental health hurdle. I can now go to restaurants with my friends, have family BBQs and I put that down to golf. My fitness is the other main thing. My previous knee injury really does limit how far I can go, but the more I play the game I just do a little bit more and it becomes less of a struggle. I just love the sport.”