The BBC news journalist and presenter is slowly easing herself back into competitive golf and has been thinking about what makes the ideal playing partner.

I’m trying to play more regularly now that I’m back on the BBC Breakfast sofa. I should have more time to play during the week and I also intend to take full advantage of what I am sure will be a marvellous summer. 

I’ve recently been thinking about who I enjoy playing golf with and why.

First, the obvious reasons: partners who only give advice when they are asked and ones who don’t berate you when you hit a poor shot (we’re all doing our best).

I don’t think that you need to have a similar game, but I do think that similar attitudes are key. I have often seen people who are so desperate to win; it gets to the point where it almost seems as if they’re not actually enjoying playing the game because they’re so focused on the result.

The new ‘zen’ me is appalled by this. It is now a personal policy of mine to not play golf with certain people if I don’t think that it will be an enjoyable experience. I know that I can become annoyed easily, so I find that it’s now better not to put myself in a situation where that could happen. Also, I genuinely believe that this is ‘just a game’ and since we aren’t professionals, we’re lucky enough to have this as a hobby, which distracts us from the stresses of our own jobs.

Ironically you may think, I also enjoy people who are willing and able to talk about something other than golf. That means less analysing of theirs or my game/swing, more giggles and if I’m really lucky, I learn something new and interesting. I also find that I’m more relaxed when I’m not completely focused on the game, though I’m yet to see if that translates into better performance. It’s early days, but something I will keep monitoring.

Of course, trust comes into this too.

When you’re playing with someone whose game and personality you are familiar with, it means that you can be more honest about how you feel about
certain strategies, and also when to take risks, or not, at certain points in a match.

I know someone who is very frustrated with one of her partners. They insist on going for the ‘big’ (read: ‘high risk’) shot on every hole, even when it’s not needed and the safe play would pretty much guarantee winning the hole. This strategy is fine if they’re playing well, but often that isn’t the case so it puts more pressure
on my friend to play well. It’s now got to the point where she is trying to figure out how to end the partnership, which is a shame.

Break-ups are hard to do at the best of times - and can they stay friends? That’s tricky itself. I’ve seen a few golf partnerships dissolve and it also extends to the friendship too. Surely that doesn’t have to be the case? I personally have been ‘dumped’ lots of times (for various reasons, not all negative might I add!) and I refuse to let that affect friendships.

Variety is the spice of life, and I enjoy having lots of different playing partners, women and men - promiscuous golf is definitely the way forward for me!

The above is an extract from Naga's column in the latest issue of Women & Golf magazine, on sale Friday. Never miss an issue click here to subscribe and enjoy W&G delivered to your door.


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