Daily golf challenge

Queenstowner Kayleigh Woodings has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

In fact, the 37-year-old’s set herself annual ones for the better part of the last decade.

After last year committing to getting up at 5am each day — handy, as she was completing her masters in business, majoring in global management and marketing, fulltime, as well as working — she spent the year at a computer.

Deciding her 2023 challenge needed to prioritise fresh air, she picked 365 days of golf.

Ironic, given, by her own admission, she wasn’t really a player.

‘‘When I first came to Queenstown, my first boss, in 2019, said ‘all deals are done on the golf course, so you better learn how to play golf’.

‘‘He used to run around the golf course … so I had to learn at a run.’’

While continuing to be a member of the Queenstown Golf Club, ‘‘I wasn’t any good at golf, and I didn’t actually do anything’’.

That’s changed, now.

Woodings, Blue Mercury Leadership director, says she’s played at least 20 minutes of golf every day this year, and except a few days indoor putting or at Athol St’s Golf Federation, ‘‘most of the time I’m either at the driving range, or with a raincoat on’’.

‘‘I’ve had some pretty awful days outside in the rain — I have been wet to my undies on a number of occasions, one of them was literally last week.

‘‘I have not learnt.’’

She’s played golf in cyclone conditions in the North Island, on a cruise ship in the middle of Fiji, and at courses up and down the country.

And thanks to some ‘‘arbitrary and volunteered’’ advice from a host of golfers, including Doug MacGillivray and his team at the Frankton Golf Centre, and proper coaching from Millbrook Resort’s Ben Gallie — ‘‘I almost cry every lesson because there’s so far to go, or I thought I had it and it turns out I was fluking it … or, ‘ow, I’ve got a blister’’’ — her game’s definitely improved.

Her handicap has dropped from 26 at the start of the year to a handicap index of 18.4.

With a goal of getting to 18 by year-end, she’s hoping today’s ‘The Longest Day’ challenge, where she’ll play 72 holes at Queenstown’s Kelvin Heights’ golf course to raise money for the Cancer Society, will get her there.

‘‘I should have really picked a course that didn’t have hills,’’ she laughs, ‘‘but I didn’t think about that till after I booked it.

‘‘You live and learn.

‘‘But also, I think it has to be a challenge.’’

Inspired by her mother, who passed away from lymphoma in 2020, Woodings has already exceeded her initial $5000 fundraising target, and now hopes to get to $6000, to go towards cancer research.

Additionally, Woodings joined the Queenstown Golf Club board at the beginning of September, and is excited about the future of the club, particularly given what she’s learnt by playing over the past year.

‘‘There are lots of things I think are quite a lot more philosophical about the game of golf than I expected when I first started [that] would be good for future generations to understand and take that learning and apply it wherever they go.’’

For example, she says she’s learned a lot about patience and resilience.

Of the latter: ‘‘You might have hit [your ball] into the trees, now you have to take your medicine, put your big girl pants on, and learn about looking forward and not looking back on the things you can’t control.

‘‘Learning about how to deal with failure and knowing it’s only a piece of data in our past, and how to move forward.’’

● To donate to Woodings’ ‘The Longest Day’ fundraiser, visit rb.gy/z9bdpw

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