Scottish champ Gabrielle MacDonald credits her schooling at Craigielaw

Gabrielle MacDonald, right
Gabrielle MacDonald, right
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New Scottish women’s champion Gabrielle MacDonald honed her match-play skills competing against boys as a junior at Craigielaw.

MacDonald started out at Prestonfield before switching to the East Lothian club as its junior scene was really starting to take off.

“Gordon Smith, who ran the junior team, really encouraged me to play a lot of golf with boys,” said the 21-year-old as she savoured her weekend win at Prestwick.

“I used to play against the likes of Grant Forrest (now Scotland’s top-ranked amateur) and Greg Smail so it was a good environment to be in at that age.”

MacDonald, who beat Troon’s Connie Jaffrey at the 19th to claim the Scottish crown, also represented Craigielaw three times in a top junior event in Spain.

“I played against boys most of the time in that as well while it was also great match-play experience,” she added.

From an early age MacDonald’s dad Keith has supported her every step on the golf course.

“Both him and my mum Jacqui were a bit emotional on Saturday but that was to be expected,” said MacDonald of her success in joining the likes of Catriona Matthew on the roll of honour. She intends to join the Scottish No. 1 in the paid ranks, though not until she finishes a geography degree at St Andrews University where she says she is benefiting from the golfing culture in the old town.

“I’ve got one more year to go,” she said. “I’d like to turn pro but I think it’s a few years down the line.”

More immediately, MacDonald has this weekend’s St Rule Trophy in St Andrews in her sights. She finished fifth in that a year ago and hopes to improve on that after shaking off her “bridesmaid’s” tag.

“Before the weekend I’d started finishing second in a lot of things,” she admitted. “The British Unis last year and also the Scottish Under-21s.

“I’d not won anything for a long time, to be honest, so to see my fortunes change in the Scottish Women’s Championship of all events was fantastic.

“My game has definitely improved through being up at Uni in St Andrews, where we enjoy great facilities and great coaching, too, from Kevin Hale.”