Karen Ballantyne - Captain Marvel of Craigmillar Park

Craigmillar Park club captain Karen Ballantyne
Craigmillar Park club captain Karen Ballantyne
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Karen Ballantyne would understand if disgruntled Craigmillar Park members want to “come along to the club and throw tomatoes at me”.

By the sounds of things, though, one of the stalwarts of Midlothian ladies’ golf is keeping them happy as she settles in as just the second woman to hold the club captaincy in its history.

“Karen is doing an amazing job and Craigmillar Park is buzzing again,” reported Mary Richardson, a member of the Capital club and former Midlothian County captain.

“At the weekend, she won the Craigmillar Park Ladies Championship to the biggest cheer I have ever heard for a champion at our club!”

Ballantyne took over the post at the end of January, emulating Miss C A Richardson, who was appointed as club captain back in 1930.

“It wasn’t completely out of the blue as people had been saying to me for a couple of years, ‘you can do this so why not give it a go?’ ” said Ballantyne of her appointment.

“I was about to retire so it was the right time to do it and the members have been very positive. I’m sure there will be some dissenters, but they certainly aren’t vocal – at least not to my face.”

Equal rights have been in existence at Craigmillar Park since the club was founded in 1895, which has made life easier for Ballantyne, a member for 30 years, than it might be for women appointed to the same post elsewhere.

“There are no issues about men and ladies having to integrate,” she added. “I remember Ron Brownlee saying that Miss Nicholson was the best person for the job. It wasn’t just that there was no-one else to take it on due to it being a post-war period.”

A former County captain and junior convenor, Ballantyne is determined to play her part in establishing a bright future for Craigmillar Park. “Everyone says ‘as long as you leave it in the same position as when you took on the job you’ll be fine’,” she commented. “I think that would be a step back. I want to leave it in a much better position than when I took over.

“We had a membership drive in April and rather than an Open Day we made it an Open Week this year. We gained 30 members across the board, including 23 new full members.

“It’s also important that we look after existing members and, with that in mind, we are holding a Scottish Golf Union forum.

“We’ve already held our own mini forums and I’ve also put myself up at a ‘Captain’s Corner’.

“I’m there in the clubhouse for two or three hours and members can come and throw tomatoes at me if they want to.”

Ballantyne, whose latest club championship success was her fifth, is hopeful that her two-year term will coincide with a proposed amalgamation for Scottish golf finally getting the green light.

“That would be nice as the process has gone on too long,” she declared. “I was at a meeting last week about the amalgamation. It has to be right. They are engaging everyone in it and that will help.”