Dawn Baker, 64, a business adviser at Barclays Bank in Cheshire suffered a stroke in January 2016 which left her with partial vision and struggling with balance and stamina.
“Before the stroke I was an independent person, but after I didn’t want to do anything and found it difficult to get out and about because I couldn’t drive any longer,” she says.
Four months after her stroke, Dawn was encouraged to try her hand at golf by Hilary Belshaw, an information advice and service coordinator from The Stroke Association. Hilary suggested it would help her rehabilitation process.
“I had always been quite inactive and had certainly never played golf before but they suggested it might help. To be honest I was still quite shocked from what had happened to me and thought golf would give me something new to focus on.”
Dawn joined a five-week beginner course at Malkins Bank Golf Club, in Sandbach, Cheshire. This was part of a joint project between England Golf and The Stroke Association, in Cheshire, as part of its Get into golf campaign. Run by PGA professional coach Alex Heler, it brought together 10 people recovering from the condition.
“I was nervous starting the course. I wondered whether I would be able to manage it and what the other people would be like. Alex and people taking part were all really friendly. However, when I saw how hard you had to hit it to get the ball to move towards the hole, I doubted I’d ever be able to do it.
Once I started playing I realised that I loved the challenge of learning something new. It gave me something to look forward to. I wanted to practise as much as I could to improve and ended up joining another five-week course immediately after.
Playing golf has been one of the best things I could have done to help my recovery. It’s helped with my balance and tackling day-to-day life activities because of the movement up and down to pick the ball.
It has also helped me build confidence and stamina. After the stroke I felt exhausted all the time and golf has gradually helped me build up my strength.
We’ve all enjoyed the camaraderie. Knowing you’re going to meet up with friends and play golf once a week can give you a real boost, make you feel better and give you something to look forward to.
After a stroke you can feel nervous of doing things with others because you’ve lost confidence but golf is such a supportive environment. It encourages you to push yourself a little and learn something new.
Golf helps me focus on the future and what I can do, instead of dwelling on the things I can’t do any more. The game is now an important part of my life and I will definitely continue playing.