Grace Crawford 'loving life' as she swaps North Berwick for Bahamas
As the final round of the Hero World Challenge was taking place on Sunday, an excited group of youngsters soaked up getting close to the likes of Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.
Mixed in with lots of different tongues was the lilt of a Scot, the person in question being 14-year-old Grace Crawford, who comes from North Berwick but is now enjoying the opportunity of a lifetime on the Caribbean island.
She’s less than two months into being a new member of the Albany Golf Academy, an elite training programme, and there was no sign whatsoever of her struggling with homesickness.
Crawford uses the same practice facilities as 20 of the world’s players – tournament host Tiger Woods, too, as he hit balls – enjoyed last week and plays on the Ernie Els-designed course that provides a stiff test. Oh, and then there’s idyllic weather, too.
“It’s been the best experience of my life so far,” she told The Scotsman during a chat as she watched Open champion Morikawa and Brooks Koepka in the final group.
“The opportunities they have to offer here – the practice facilities, the course, everything – it’s just more than you could ever imagine.”
Crawford, who has been mentored by Catriona Matthew as she’s come through the ranks at North Berwick, is enjoying being part of a “diverse” group of talented young golfers.
“There’s probably around 12 of us and we have school in the morning up until 12 then we’ve got golf in the afternoon up until about 5 and later on if you want,” she added.
“You can really play and practice whenever you fancy as it’s all on the doorstep for us here at Albany. Our accommodation is only a five-minute walk from here, so we couldn’t ask for much more.
“It’s not just Americans in the group. In fact, there’s a wide variety. We’ve got someone from the Cayman Islands, as well as Singapore, Jamaica and also some from England.
“When you are living with people, you get to know them so much quicker and become closer. I’ve made a lot of friends already and I am really enjoying it.”
Albany is a 600-acre luxury resort community jointly owned by Joe Lewis, who once held a significant stake in Rangers, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Justin Timberlake.
The club’s logo is one of the most exclusive in the game and Crawford, one of the brightest young talents in Scottish golf, is proud to be wearing it.
“The ‘a’ is a special logo and it comes with a lot of opportunities. A lot of everything, really,” she said, smiling.
“It was quite a rare opportunity and I was quite lucky. I think it was through someone who knew me and I am just very thankful to be here.
“Playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this year was a great opportunity, but I’d have to say that coming here tops anything else I’ve done in my life so far.”
Before starting to play some tournaments in the US in January, she is heading home soon for a Christmas break and, with the sun beating down, admitted: “I’m not ready for the cold as I hear it’s freezing in Scotland.”