I was 6 down at the turn, it was pouring rain and I was playing tripe. I wanted to go in.
“You’re not going in,” Dad said. “You challenged me to a match and we’ll play to the finish. You can’t just keep going when it suits you.”
I was 10 years old and Dad had promised me a brand new set of clubs the moment I beat him playing level. He was playing off 7 handicap and I was so keen to win those clubs I badgered him to play a match at every conceivable opportunity. It took me till I was 13 to get the better of him, winning at the 20th hole of our home club of Portstewart. My reward was a set of Jean Donalds, bought from the club pro, Johnnie Hunter, a myriad of lessons learned and a lifelong love of golf.
The next decade brought an air-miles account, a couple of British titles, proud appearances for both Ireland and Great Britain and entry onto the Ladies’ European Tour. I loved the dozen years I was on tour despite tripping on the top step a few times and never winning a regular tour event. I gained my PGA qualifications while touring, which helped me build a coaching career looking after the development of Welsh women’s golf for over ten years. Four years of mentoring the GB&I squads culminated in being made an Advanced Fellow of the Professional Golfers’ Association.
An ever present strand running alongside this business of playing and coaching has been my involvement in broadcasting. Most of it has been for the BBC, but working in the States has been a hugely enjoyable and influential part of my journey. Walking inside the ropes watching the greatest players in the world perform under immense pressure is not something I’ll tire of and, rather to my surprise 20 Open Championships have now whizzed past, as well as half a dozen Ryder Cups and numerous Solheims.
So, playing, coaching, learning, debating, arguing, writing and talking about golf has been my life. Why stop now?