Golf! Not something I imagined I'd find myself talking about. But one evening after work, I found myself driving down the Coventry Road to find the Forest of Arden Marriot, near Meriden, to try out their women's beginner golf lessons. And for dinner, obviously.
The place itself was really easy to get to (unless you miss the turning and drive half way to Coventry). It's just 20-30 minutes out of Birmingham. The complex is giant. My friend Rachael and I were late to the lesson because we couldn't find where we were supposed to be going! Word to the wise- it's the Golf Academy.
So, we were there to try out the women's beginners golf taster sessions the Marriott were running throughout May. They really want to get rid of some the stuffiness around golf- there's no membership fees, you don't have to sign up for hundreds of lessons. Hannah, the golf pro running the sessions, is very flexible and happy to do sessions for groups of friends together. The plan is to get more women into golf as it's still very male dominated.
Rachael and I joined the 6 or 7 women already in the lesson. We were practising holding the golf club and Hannah came round to adjust our posture. She was super friendly and not judgemental at all.
I'd been a bit worried about what to wear as I was coming from work, so I wore chinos and pumps to work and then changed into trainers. Happily, there's no dress code- just comfortable clothing.
After getting our posture right, Hannah gave us a load of golf balls and just let us hit them. I felt a little bit silly at first but the non-judgemental atmosphere, fresh air and lush green surroundings soon got me into it!
When it began raining, we quickly gathered up all the balls and headed to the driving range. Rachael and I shared a bay and took it in turns to practice our swing. Hannah gave us lots of time on our own but also came to everyone individually to talk posture and all the things you don't think about.
You can't really see them but there were loads of ducks roaming around! Apparently they didn't mind the flying balls.
It was lovely being in the fresh air and looking at the greenery. After an hour of swinging, I felt surprisingly tired, especially in my arms and waist. There's quite a lot of core activity going on with golf, as you need to protect your back.
So I was ready to stuff my face in the cafe bar.
Zest is the casual cafe bar at the hotel, where most of the golfers go afterwards for a drink and food. When we were there there was some sport on the TV and lots of regulars watching but they were just talking amongst themselves and it was a comfortable atmosphere. I imagine if you were staying at the hotel this would be a great place to pop into for an easy meal.
The food is casual pub-style. Pizzas, ribs, burgers etc. I really wanted to try the wings (you know how I love wings) so I persuaded Rach to share the BBQ wings with me.
Obviously they weren't huge wings with crunchy skin- you rarely find that- but there was plenty of meat and the sticky BBQ sauce was moreish. I liked that they came with crudites and blue cheese dip.
Onto mains and Rachael chose the burger. I'm a bit fussy about burgers now (spoilt) so I didn't go for it. It was a cheese and bacon burger which she enjoyed. She asked for it without tomato and the waitress was very diligent in checking whether it was an allergy.
I chose fish and chips. It came with great fat chips, tartar sauce and mushy peas which were a bit too mushy for me. The fish was nicely flakey and the batter was golden and not too thick.
I wasn't going to have a pudding, I just wanted a coffee to wake me up for the drive home. I ordered a cappuccino and it was giant. It's in a Starbucks mug and they had Starbucks signs but I think it was one of those automatic machines but with Starbucks coffee. Like at the cinema.
I somehow ended up with mango sorbet after being convinced by our lovely waitress. This was lovely and refreshing and just what I needed. I loved that it came with fresh fruit too.
Rachael's was even prettier. She chose honeycomb and chocolate ice creams and these came topped with honeycomb and chocolate curls.
If you're in anyway interested in golf or looking for a new hobby, I really recommend getting in touch with them and seeing what they have to offer. As well as the golf centre, there's a spa and an a la carte restaurant.
Forest of Arden Marriott
Photos by me and the shots of me by Rachael.
Food, drink and golf session were complimentary.