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Gay golfers invite novices onto the green

Anniversary season packed for new and returning members

When Out Golfing Group coordinator Robert Meagher speaks about gay golfing, he makes a convincing argument.

“Bear with me a moment,” he says. “I must tell you this story about what happened the other day.”

Meagher embarks on a tale to illustrate the value of golfing with like-minded queers.

“A group of us went golfing with some new members just recently. One of the guys at the end of the round expressed how much he enjoyed himself and how comfortable he was to be golfing with a group of gay people. This was a seasoned golfer; he’d golfed for years but he’d never had this level of comfort with a group before.”

Meagher pauses, his voice softening.

“It reminded me why I wanted to join the gay group years ago. I’d played my whole life but it became a different experience when I was first coming to terms with my sexuality. This is a long game and it can be a very social one. At some point in a round, when you’re playing with people you don’t know, your sexuality comes into question. You’re asked if you have a wife or girlfriend, and once again you’re faced with coming out the closet or not. It can be really awkward. You never have that here. That’s why it’s so necessary to have this group.”

The year kicks off with the novice golf camps. This series of Saturday lessons (May 17, 24 and 31) is open to beginners and those who think they could use a refresher. The sessions will be focussing on three main principles — solid ball contact, a balanced swing and set-up and alignment (aka: aim).

The summer calendar continues with a couple of buzzing social events. But Meagher is certain that, if one puts on a few pounds with all the dinners and barbeques, a couple of afternoons on the golf course will take care of that.

“Golfing is excellent exercise. An average round of golf takes four to five hours. If you choose to walk the course, that’s the equivalent of over six kilometers. Then you add the physical dimension of swinging the golf club. The average golfer takes 100 swings to get around the golf course. No matter how good you are, you’ll feel it in your hips, legs and arms, shoulders, which we call the golfing muscles. And it’s great; by the end of the season you don’t feel it at all.”

Making the most of the sunshine throughout the summe, the group will be golfing on a variety of courses every Saturday and Sunday.

For the competitive golfer — or those just looking to meet others with a similar obsession — the July calendar includes a golf weekend with Toronto Gay Golf in Belleville, followed by the their second annual tourney in August. The season’s grand finale will be the Ottawa Out Golfing Group Golf Championships in September.

A more competitive golfer himself, Meagher’s favourite weekend of the season is the second annual Scramble Golf Tournament.

“We have golfers from across Canada participating, predominantly from Ontario and Quebec. We may also have some European and United States participants this year. And if the golf gods are on our side, we’ll have some professional woman golfers joining us this year also.”

Appealing to the golf gods for some assistance, Meagher’s expects the 10th anniversary events to attract many new members.

“We have a really fun season ahead. By my math there’s about 20,000 gay golfers in Ottawa, and that’s a conservative estimate. So its not unreasonable to expect our membership to be about 200 by the end of this season.”