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Monday, May 18, 2009

Scottish women's amateur championship preview



Competitors in this week’s 95th Scottish women’s amateur golf championship at Southerness would not have learned much from practice rounds today in periodic lashing rain and a howling southwesterly wind blowing off the Solway Firth.
Except that links golf in these conditions – which are forecast to stay around at least for for the Tuesday-Wednesday stroke-play qualifying rounds – is about the survival of the fittest and scorecard damage limitation … and remembering that everyone else will be struggling to get pars.
The absence of Curtis Cup 16-year-old Carly Booth, last year’s Scottish Under-18 girls champion, is a blow if only in terms of focusing public interest in the championship.
To many “outsiders,” Carly is the only Scottish female amateur golf name and face they recognise from the newspaper and magazine coverage she has received from an early age.
Which is most unfair on the likes of Stirling University Kelsey MacDonald (Nairn Dunbar), the Scottish Under-21 champion, St Rule Trophy winner last year Kyle Walker (Buchanan Castle), Glasgow University student Pamela Pretswell (Bothwell Castle), who won the Swiss women’s open amateur title against a very strong Continental field last summer, Fife champion Louise Kenney (Pitreavie), British universities title-winner Jane Turner (Craigielaw) to name just a handful.
Unlike the “old days,” when Belle Robertson (Dunaverty) was able to win this title five times over a 21-year span (1965 to 1986), championship winners are liable to turn pro before they can defend as last year’s Lossiemouth winner, Michele Thomson (McDonald Ellon), Jenna Wilson (Strathaven), Heather Stirling (Bridge of Allan), Linzi Morton (Tulliallan), Lynn Kenny (Dunblane) have done in recent years.
Anne Laing (Vale of Leven), champion in 1996, 2001 and 2004 and four times a beaten finalist, Elaine Moffat (St Regulus) (1998), Martine Pow (Selkirk) are the only former title-holders in the field reduced to 82 with the withdrawal of local player Susan Dickie (Lochmaben) who is ill.
So who’s going to win? Not even the qualifying rounds are guaranteed to give a strong pointer in that direction. Kelsey MacDonald earned the No 1 status in the 32 match-play qualifiers 12 months ago – and then was toppled in the first round by her good friend, Sammy Vass from Tain.
Kelsey, if she plays as well as she did in finishing second to the Irish wonder twin Leona Maguire in the “Helen Holm” at Troon, is the one they all have to beat.
Failing that, keep an eye on the two beaten semi-finalists from last year – Kylie Walker and Laura Murray (Alford).
Kylie, if she can keep her long drives out of the heather, has a definite chance while Laura, beaten at the 20th, gave champion-to-be Michele Thomson her toughest test in last year’s championship.
+Handicaps don’t come into play in the Scottish women’s championship but worth pointing out there seven players with +ratings in this week’s field: Kelsey MacDonald +3, Kylie Walker +3, Pamela Pretswell +2, Martine Pow +2, Katy McNicoll (Carnousitie) +1, Emily Ogilvy (Auchterarder) +1, Louise Kenney +1.


Southerness Golf Club must be one of the few golf clubs of their standing not to have names given to their holes.
The SLGA are about to change all that! They are running a competition among the players to come up with "appropriate" names for the holes and there will be some kind of prize or prizes at the end of the week.
That is not to say Southerness Golf Club will act upon the suggestions.
If they have not this far with 18 nameless holes, they are unlikely to change now!


The SLGA are to run a live scoring service from Southerness, starting with the Tuesday-Wednesday qualifying rounds. Log on to for updates every three holes on how the players are progressing.
It was a service that went down very well at the "Helen Holm," so much so that on the Sunday afternoon so many "hits" were received that the computer system could not cope and "crashed" for a spell.