Hannah Darling snubs Stanford to sign for South Carolina
The 17-year-old Broomieknowe player paid a visit to California earlier in the year to check out Stanford, but it seems she already had her heart set on becoming a “Gamecock” instead next August.
“I am buzzing, especially after what’s been going on this year,” said Darling, who sits 50th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, of her decision to head to the University of South Carolina on a four-year scholarship after seeing the 2020 season decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s given me something exciting to look forward to and I know that it can’t really be cancelled by Covid.
“I spoke to quite a few universities before narrowing it down and speaking to people on the phone. South Carolina was one of the first universities to get in touch with me and I remember when I first met the coach there at the European Championships a few years ago she told me that I had the best swing she’d ever seen.
“I went on visits in February to South Carolina, Stanford and Florida State. We went to South Carolina first and, as soon as we got there, I liked the feel of everything - the team, the coaches and the support staff as well.
“Everything was brilliant. There was nothing that I was worried about not being right for me and I’m delighted to be heading out there next August. They were ranked No 1 in America last season and it’s a really good opportunity for me.”
Darling, a two-time Scottish Girls’ champion, won the inaugural R&A Girls’ Under-16 Open Championship at Fulford in 2018 before making a dream appearance in last year’s Junior Solheim Cup on home soil at Gleneagles.
Due to the coronavirus, the Women’s Amateur Championship in August has been her only big event since golf came out of lockdown, but she has been working hard with her coach, Ian Muir, to ensure that lack of competition doesn’t prove damaging in the long run.
“We have spoken about that a lot,” said Darling, who is continuing with some sixth-year studies at school even though her university place has already been secured.It’s important that we don’t let this year hold me back. We are using this as an opportunity to get better and that’s what we’ve done.
“I played a lot of golf this summer, not in big tournaments but club stuff a Broomie, and it was all aimed at getting better. It was like a really long winter period, if you like, where we could work on everything.
“It’s been a case of building on what was there and using it as an opportunity rather than something that could be damaging.
“It’s been a frustrating year. I’ve only played in one big tournament since coming out of lockdown, which is unheard of for me. But I think it has just made me appreciate the opportunities I do get normally.”