Catriona Matthew inspiring new generation of girl golfers in North Berwick
Catriona Matthew is helping inspire a new generation of girl golfers in her hometown of North Berwick as she captains Europe for a second time in the Solheim Cup this weekend.
Matthew has always been proud of her golfing roots being at North Berwick Golf Club and the local resident is playing a part in a new crop of youngsters coming through the ranks on the town’s historic West Links.
“They are doing really well,” reported Katy McNicoll, a PGA teaching professional who works with the club’s juniors as part of her role under head pro Martyn Huish.
“We’ve got some decent numbers from grass-roots level and I think the ones with handicaps are sitting at the top of the East Lothian Junior League at the moment, which is pretty impressive.”
Earlier this year, the club hosted a Girls’ Golf Hub in association with Scottish Golf, the main aim of which was to introduce newcomers to the sport.
On seeing a couple of participants wearing 2019 Solheim Cup hats, McNicoll decided to see if she could arrange a special treat for them.
“I know Catriona through work and also from playing golf a few times together, so I thought I would chance my arm by phoning her randomly on the final day,” said McNicoll.
“I asked if she could come along to the Wee Course in North Berwick and sign some autographs.
“Fair play to her, I think she was about to hop on her peloton bike, but she came along with her dog Rio to oblige with the autographs and it was pretty cool. It was great that she did that.
“Something little like that, getting a signature or a golf ball, is going to change the lives of those girls after meeting someone who is pretty prominent in the game.”
Matthew has been prominent in the game for a long time, enjoying the highlight of her career when winning the Women’s Open at Royal Lytham in 2009.
She played in nine Solheim Cups before leading Europe to victory on home soil two years ago and is now trying to mastermind just a second success on US soil at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio.
“Role models give kids something to aspire to and there aren’t as many famous female sports people out there, especially from Scotland,” said McNicoll. “So it’s quite nice to have one on our doorstep.
“I think having role models is hugely important. When I was growing up, you would look towards Catriona winning the British Open. It let you know things were possible.”
In addition to Matthew, the likes of Louise Duncan and Hannah Darling are doing their bit to attract more girls into the game through winning the Women’s Amateur and Girls’ Amateur titles this year.
“From an East Lothian perspective, we’ve had Grace Crawford doing really well while Clara Young has just turned pro,” said McNicoll.
“There are loads of role models out there and what Louise achieved at the recent Women’s Open was definitely something that your amateur golfers at elite level can aspire to.”
In a mark of support for Matthew and her team, European flags have been put up in the North Berwick clubhouse, which is also staying open late to allow members to watch the action from Ohio.