Want to get into golf? MAXINE GORDON gives it a go

IF at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

That famous motto from my fellow countryman Robert the Bruce played over in my mind as I swung for the fifth time at the tiny white ball on the ground in front of me – and completely missed.

I was puzzled. I play tennis and thought I had fairly good hand-eye co-ordination – and I can hit a moving ball with welly. Granted, a tennis ball is bigger and a tennis racquet has a much larger face than a golf club – but surely the principles can't be that different? And unlike a tennis ball coming at you at 100 mph, a golf ball is just sitting there, inviting you to whack it on the back and send it into orbit. From the tee, the ball is supposed to make a graceful arc in the air and land with a pleasing thud on the green.

Which is just what my partner for the day Miranda Stephenson had done. With a satisfying cracking noise, her driver struck the golf ball with ease and it made a perfect inverted-U to land about ten metres from the hole.

After my miserable efforts at teeing off, I was full of awe and admiration.

Miranda, 63, from York, is one of a new generation of golfers coming to the game later in life. And many are female.

Miranda started playing two years ago while on holiday with her friend Philippa in Spain. Philippa was an accomplished player, having started as a child, and had a handicap of seven. Miranda recalls that time with relish: "I remember she gave me a tub of golf balls and left me for an hour at the range as she played some holes. By the time she returned, I was hooked."

Miranda is now a member at the York Golf Club at Strensall, where she plays two or three times a week, and has a handicap of 30.

We'd both come to Allerthorpe, near Pocklington, to try out its revamped nine-hole golf course situated in a new five-star leisure park.

Looking after us for the day was club pro and coach Duncan McNaughton, who took us straight out to the first hole.

As a complete novice, Duncan began by telling me how to stand, how to grip the club and how to swing. After each spectacular miss, he adjusted all three of these until on the sixth attempt I actually hit it. Granted it sped off across the ground to the left rather than lifting up into the air in the direction of the flag at the first hole – but it was a start.

The breakthrough came after Duncan told me to keep my eyes on the ball all the way through the swing and not to look up to see its flight. "The other golfers around you can look and tell you where it's gone," he said.

Miranda had no problem teeing off, and soon we were on the green and ready to putt. Miranda made it look effortless, just a gentle nudge and her ball rolled into the hole. As I struck mine, it flew to the other side of the green as Duncan yelled "taxi" – and we all laughed.

To help, Duncan instructed me to keep my arms fairly straight and rigid and swing like a pendulum: he placed two golf tees in the grass to the left and right of the ball to give me a visual aid in restricting the size of my swing.

And it worked. My putting instantly improved, and with a bit of practise, so did my other shots.

By now I could hit the ball – and direct it towards the green, but I wasn't getting any elevation. Duncan said not to worry: I was doing well for an absolute novice and that it was quite an achievement to be able to hit the ball and putt after one lesson.

The best solution, he suggested, was to return for more lessons.

I really enjoyed my morning at Allerthorpe and my first taste of golf, so told him I would be back.

The course is unusual in that although it offers annual membership, it also allows you to pay and play. For absolute beginners like me, Duncan is running a range of golf lessons from individual one-on-ones to group coaching, with courses for juniors too. He also offers coaching to all levels of players – all by appointment on Sundays and Mondays only.

The 19th hole is legendary in golfing circles, and Allerthorpe is no exception (but might best be called the 10th hole on account of it being a nine-hole course!). So after our coaching session – which included a challenge for me and Miranda to clear our balls over the course lake – we had a drink and a bite to eat in the Pheasant bar and restaurant.

We were famished after a round of golf and all that fresh air. As we tucked into our lunch, Miranda told us why she loved golf so much.

"It gets you outside and is great exercise. It is very sociable; you walk around with two or three people then come in for a drink afterwards and re-live the golf! I also like the technical challenge of it, which I aim to build upon."

Find out more at: allerthorpegolf.co.uk

For coaching, contact Duncan McNaughton on email: djmgolfteachingpro@gmail.com. Prices start at £4 for a one-hour group session to £25 for a 40-minute individual lesson.