Presenter and actress Denise van Outen is taking golf lessons and she hopes to get a handicap this year. She tells Women & Golf magazine that she thinks golf is cool even if she does resemble a walking ice-cream!

Denise Van Outen

By Lewine Mair

In the 2012 final of Strictly Come Dancing, Denise van Outen danced in front of around 12 million people without feeling nervous. Does she feel like that when she stands on the first tee at golf? The answer was a succinctly humorous ‘No’.

To explain, when this talented show-business personality played with Buckinghamshire’s Rachel Drummond in a LET pro-am at Stoke by Nayland last summer, she had been alarmed to find a little gathering hanging about the tee in anticipation of the opening drives.

“It was frightening,” she acknowledged. Before too long, though, she was into her stride and finding that the pressure was working for her rather than the reverse. “Pressure can be a good thing, especially if you’re playing well in the first place,” she avers.

Van Outen and Drummond - the latter played for England in the Nations Cup - got on like the proverbial house on fire and today they make up a four-strong team which does the rounds of the various charity golf days.

The team has a name. “We called it ‘Lady Danger’ after my favourite red lipstick,” said the latest recruit to EastEnders.

It was one of the tabloid papers which noted that van Outen loved dressing up for golf and quoted her as saying, “I feel naughty in my golf outfits; they bring out the devil in me.” (Hardly your usual women’s ‘golf-speak’.)

She says, with a chuckle, that a) she never spoke to the author of the article and b) that she said no such thing.

Yet it is 100% true that she thinks that the latest in golf fashions have a little something about them. “I love them; it seems that they’ve changed so much over the last few years.”

Denise van Outen, stoke by nayland golf hotel

Denise and boyfriend Eddie Boxshall on Lodge balcony at Stoke by Nayland Resort

For Valentine’s weekend, van Outen and her boyfriend, Eddie Boxshall, went to Stoke by Nayland Hotel - an experience she relished. Asked to describe what a glamour-girl like herself wore for golf on Valentines Day, she came up with the cheerful suggestion that she resembled “a walking ice-cream”.

It was all “pinks, cream and baby blues” - at least until she had to don something warmer and more waterproof.

Van Outen’s love of a challenge is well known. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in helping Comic Relief to raise 5 million, while she has also done a Dame Laura Davies in walking a section of the Great Wall of China for the Royal Marsden. On the latter occasion she and a couple of friends collected £33,000.

Such experiences almost certainly paved the way for her to ignore the bad weather that interrupted her Stoke by Nayland stay. “I didn’t mind when it turned nasty” she said. “The course was still a picture and I loved the extra challenge.”

So much does she feel at home at this well-known golfing resort that she wasted no time in booking in for her 41st birthday in May - a weekend which was going to coincide with a Murder Mystery event. It sounded like her idea of fun.

Did no-one ever tell van Outen when she was given her first set of clubs last year that golf was not exactly a ‘cool’ game for someone like herself?

She was not sure if anyone had. “If someone were to say that today, I wouldn’t take too long to put them straight,” she insisted.

“Personally, I think golf is a really cool game for women. It’s very social. I’m not working as hard as I used to because of my four-year-old daughter, Betsy, so I wanted to find something I could do with my girlfriends while she is at school and golf fits the bill.

“You can play at home and you can travel abroad with this game. It feels grown up and it feels cool and I feel passionate about it. Also, I’ve met so many different people from so many different walks of life - and everywhere I’ve played, I couldn’t have been made more welcome. It’s all added up to an amazing new experience.”

denise van outen. stoke by nay land golf hotel

Denise van Outen in the lodge bedroom at the Stoke by Nayland Resort

The above is an extract from Lewine Mair’s interview with Denise van Outen in the May/June  issue of Women & Golf magazine, on sale Friday 3 April.

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