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Countryfile's Helen Skelton reveals how golf has changed her life

"I think it's always good to challenge yourself and put yourself out of your comfort zone."

Leanne Bayley

Countryfile star Helen Skelton has challenged herself since April - by learning to play golf from scratch. The 38-year-old has joined the likes of Fleur East, Natalie Pinkham, and Bella Shah to be the 2021 Slingsby Golf Academy cadets.  

Their challenge is to learn how to play golf before competing against each other in a nerve-wracking play-off to qualify for the BMW PGA Championship Celebrity Pro-Am.

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The winner of the Play-Off, taking place over Wentworth’s East Course the week before the BMW PGA Championship, will also receive a £5,000 bonus cheque from Slingsby to donate to a charity of their choice.

We spoke to Helen about how she's getting on with tacking her new skillset... 

Hi Helen! How have you been finding training for the celebrity Slingsby golf academy? 

I have loved the training but sometimes it is hard to find the time - golf is quite a time consuming game, so it's tricky to find a spare four hours to get out on a course but it is what it is! Especially now the weather is nice and people can socialise again, there are a few too many Slingsby Gin fuelled BBQs happening at my house getting in the way of golf but there is definitely room to combine the two if you set out to learn with some friends. I am hoping this is a skill for life so I don't need to be the best I will ever be this summer. 

Were you a keen golfer before? 

No. I had never played until April this year. My dad, brother and husband play. I have been on a driving range a couple of times over the years but I have never done anything other than that.

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What were you most afraid of when it came to training on the Slingsby Golf Academy? 

I had no reference point because I had never played. I had no idea how intimidating standing on a tee is in front of a load of people at Rudding Park. So it was only when I started playing and got to a point that I could go on a course that I started to feel the fear. 

How is the training going? 

Some days are great, others are less so. Apparently that is golf! I think it's always good to challenge yourself and put yourself out of your comfort zone. I have made a career out of putting myself into difficult situations and this definitely is not easy. 

Watch Helen and Fleur during training 

 Many say golf is a relaxing sport and good for mental health, would you agree?

Absolutely. Despite what I have said about getting nervous on a tee! It's in nature, among greenery, you have to walk and think between shots so it's a perfect way to give your mind and brain a chance to recharge. I have long been an advocate of nature and how good being out in the open is for you and for me golf is a new way to enjoy the outdoors. 

What would be your tips to any women thinking of taking up golf? 

Don't be scared. Everyone starts somewhere and even the pros have bad days and hit terrible shots. Everyone is learning and improving in golf so there's nothing to be intimidated by. Find a friend who also wants to learn and remember to laugh. 

Do you think you’ll continue with golf now? 

I signed up because I want to learn to play golf. For me, this summer is chapter one. As long as I don't make a total fool of myself and give my clubs away afterwards, I plan on playing in the future. 

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VIDEO: Countryfile's Helen Skelton gives us an exclusive tour of epic new home