UK stage and screen star Denise van Outen headed out to Las Colinas Golf & Country Club last month to relax in one of the luxury villas on-site at Spain’s Leading Villa Resort (World Travel Awards 2015). Denise also made her first acquaintance with the championship course on Spain’s Costa Blanca that will act as her base for her quest to break 100 and gain a handicap this year.
Click on the link below to watch Denise practising her short game on Spain’s Best Golf Course (World Golf Awards 2015):
Below you will find a transcript of the full Q & A carried out with Denise during her break at Las Colinas:
How and why did you get into golf? How has it gone for you so far?
Not one member of my family plays golf, so it was a bit of a surprise move for me. I turned 40 two years ago and for my 40th birthday I wanted to learn a new hobby. I wanted something that would be a new challenge for me. Two of my friends play golf, and they’re women, and they asked me if I’d ever thought about golf. I said ‘No, it’s never crossed my mind.’ So then they went out and bought me a set of golf clubs for my 40th!
And they said ‘Here you go…now go and book a lesson.’ So I booked a lesson in the UK – and one lesson became ten. Then ten lessons became 20 lessons! Before I knew it I was playing 18 holes with my friends in the UK. I just loved the game! I played off 36 as a beginner, and then I wanted to find somewhere I could get my handicap down and break 100. I’ve had a lot of lessons and been lucky enough to play a lot of courses in the UK, but I needed to spread my wings and come somewhere where the sun shines more than it does in the UK and is easy to get to. Even when it’s winter in the UK and the courses are closed, you have reasonable weather in Spain to play golf. So this for me Las Colinas was the perfect place to come and break 100.
What is it that grabs you about golf?
It’s a number of things. I like the social aspect of it. I like the fact that I’ve probably talked more to my friends on the golf course than I have in a long time, because we all have children and work commitments. For the past five years everything has been a quick phone call with them, whereas with golf you’ve got 18 holes and five hours of conversation. So for me it’s re-ignited friendships, but there’s also the fact that my boyfriend plays. He’s been golfing for 20 years and it’s something we do together to relax and, again, talk. So it’s good for relationships. Unless one of you plays really badly, that is. Then it’s bad for relationships J
I find it hard to switch off in my day to day life. I’ve got a six-year-old daughter and I work. So golf for me is like a form of meditation. The focus is there and I think of nothing else but the game. This place is my dream. To be here at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is amazing, because there’s the game that I love. But even if you don’t play golf but someone in your family does, to come here is still perfect because you still get to enjoy the clubhouse and the great sushi. For me that sushi is a thing that makes this place amazing, because to find good sushi after a game of golf is very rare. Then there are the surroundings: very calm, very quiet, very private. It’s lovely.
What are the strengths and weaknesses in your golf game?
Like a lot of beginners I focused on the short game a lot when I started. I started on the putting green, then went to chipping, and then probably after about six months I was introduced to playing with the Big Dog, the driver, which I then got the bug for because as soon as I hit a great shot I thought ‘I just want to do this forever’. But, as you know, that doesn’t make you a great golfer, just hitting a great shot off the tee. So I’ve now had to go back to basics, and try and focus more on the short game again. That’s where I’m falling back, because I’m getting onto the green…and then I’m spending too many shots there. Chipping was always a big fear. And being in bunkers was always a big fear. But I’ve kind of got used to them because I’ve been in so many! The most frustrating thing on any golf course is water. Losing balls is really frustrating.
How has your experience as a lady golfer been and how would you encourage other women into the game?
I’ve only ever been supported on the golf course. There’s a perception that it’s a man’s sport, but it’s becoming more and more popular with women. As far as men are concerned, I’ve found that if they see you’ve got a tricky shot, they always come and help you! So I think that perception about women has no place – I’ve never felt unwelcome in any golf club. I think I speak for a generation of women who are very career minded. We’ve got our own money, and if we play something we’re playing because we want to play it. I’ve got groups of friends who play golf and we’re lucky enough to be in a position where we can get a flight and come and stay and have a girlie weekend. I always say golf’s like night-clubbing for the middle aged! It’s perfect because it’s cool and it’s social.
What about that 18-iron of yours?
It’s a driving iron! I requested it because I am a bit hit and miss with my driver. I go through good runs with it for a few weeks, then it goes really badly and I get a fear of it. Especially teeing off in front of people! So I got the driving iron because I wasn’t playing great shots with the driver. I was getting too scared. I learned to play with my seven iron – it’s my trusty iron I go back to all the time. So in my head I always say to myself that I’m driving off with a seven-iron
Is Las Colinas Golf & Country Club a good family holiday option?
Yes! I know I could have family members here and happily go off and play golf and know that the villa is lovely and clean, safe, and the security is tight. The clubhouse is lovely, the people are friendly…it’s a dream place. I’d love to have a house here and be one of the regulars.
What holiday boxes does Las Colinas Golf & Country Club tick for you?
I know not everywhere is guaranteed sun all year round, but you’re far more likely to get good hours of sun here for longer periods of time than you would in the UK. There’s a lot of green space between the villas, and the quiet is good too. I live in a city so you want a bit of quiet on your holiday. And for children it’s good too. If you came here a lot you’d get to know other golfers. I mean, I’d see this as a place I’d even come on my own and get to know people. If you came out for a weekend and asked people if they’d play a round with you, I’m sure people would!
What are your golfing and life ambitions in the next few years?
I want to make golf more popular with women. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get involved here at Las Colinas. It’s the perfect place for women to come to and I want to spread the word. I’d love to do a TV show eventually, introducing golf to a generation of women who probably think it isn’t for them but would realise that it really is! It would be good to teach them the basics. I’m also writing a film that’s almost finished and doing a show later in the year in the West End. I can’t say much about the film but it’s for women…kind of like a contemporary version of Shirley Valentine.