Farmer James Shipley has spent most of the past half-century working on his crop farm at Greendale, near Darfield on the Canterbury Plains.

For James, farm life is busy and getting away from his farming green to the golfing green can be tricky, but he knows how important it is to take a break.

“Golf is something I do regularly, and even if I don’t get to play a full round I take the opportunity as my local course is nearby. Playing a few holes in the evening on my own is very relaxing,” James says.

James was one of 1,000 golfers who took part in the Mo Masters series, set up by the Movember Foundation, to encourage men to open up discussions about their health.

Tournaments were held across New Zealand and organisers were impressed by the turnout from the farming community.

Sharing the load

James played with a group of mates he says he doesn’t get to spend enough time with, but he’s now motivated to keep up the golf and connection with friends.

“You can switch off completely or share issues and ideas with like-minded people in a friendly environment,” he says.

“After golf I usually head back to the farm with the feeling that the world is a bigger place than you sometimes imagine when you are bogged down with work on the farm, and it highlights that the world won’t stop if you don’t get something done when you think you have to.”

Movember Foundation NZ Country Manager Robert Dunne says it’s an opportunity to catch up on the golf course with a mate or someone you haven’t seen in a while.

“This is golf with your mates for your mates… We talk a bit of rubbish but can also talk about some more substantial things in life, like what’s happening on the farm, challenges at work, and hopefully a problem shared means they’re on the way to solving that problem,” he says.

Golf helps clear the mind

James wasn’t the only Cantabrian who took part in Mo Masters. He was joined by 24-year-old Jack Miller on the green at Christchurch’s Clearwater Golf Club.

Jack works on a dairy and crop farm at Motukarara, just outside of Tai Tapu towards Banks Peninsula. He also loves golf so getting involved with the charity event was an easy decision.

“Golf is a great way to unwind, stretch the legs, have a few hours away from the farm to clear the head and catch up with mates,” Jack says.

Jack is a keen golfer and plays once a week when the evenings are longer in summer.

“I sometimes try to sneak in 9 holes after milking during the week with a few keen mates. During the winter months rugby is my main sport, so golf takes a back seat, but I will still try and get in a round once a month if the body is willing.”

Jack says Mo Masters motivated him to find time to swing his clubs more.

“In the tournament I interacted with a wide range of people, and because of that I have found more mates who are keen to meet up for a round.”

He says Mo Masters was also a reminder that it’s as important to look after his headspace, as much as his physical body.

“Looking after your head space is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Yes, your physical body is important, especially with the heavy physical workloads of farming, but your headspace is something that you need to take good care of.

“Farm life can be isolated, and stressful. You might go weeks without getting away from the farm. You also spend a lot of time by yourself, and the isolation and long hours can weigh on your mind from time to time. It’s crucial that we make an effort to look after ourselves and talk about any issues we might have.”

Jack says he’ll be teeing off at the golfing green more regularly – an opportunity to look after his swinging game, as well as his head game.