AYRSHIRE air brings out the best in Amy Boulden, as she proved when winning the Helen Holm Trophy at Troon three years ago this weekend.
It’s no surprise then that last year’s Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year is relishing a double date in Burns’ Country this summer – back-to-back appearances in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
“Ayrshire is actually my favourite place in Scotland,” declared Boulden as the Welsh player joined two other talented British golfers, Charley Hull and Melissa Reid, at a media event for the latter.
“I love Prestwick golf course and the whole area and winning in this part of the country always makes it special when you come back. My mum loves this area, too.”
The pair’s first visit to Turnberry coincided with sun-kissed conditions, whetting Boulden’s appetite to take on the game’s big guns when the Ailsa Course stages its last championship before going under Donald Trump’s knife.
“I’d never been to Turnberry before until this week so it was great to play it,” added the 2012 Curtis Cup player, who was just eight when Australian Karrie Webb won the only previous Women British Open to be played there in 2002.
There’s a good chance, of course, that an Antipodean will come out on top again in the LGU’s flagship event at the beginning of August, with Kiwi Lydia Ko set to be among the main title contenders.
“It’s unbelievable to think that a 17-year-old is world No 1 – she is fantastic,” said Boulden, who signed off in the amateur ranks by helping Wales win the 2013 Women’s Home Internationals at Scotscraig. “I played golf with her when we were both amateurs in the Astor Trophy. She must have been about 13 at the time and she was awesome then. It’s great to see someone so young as her doing so well. It raises the bar and pushes the rest of us to try and do better.
“When I played with her, it was her pitching and general short game that stood out. Every time she was 100 yards in she’d get up and down all the time. That’s the most important part of the game on tour, the scrambling and the putting and that’s what I continue to work on.
“When the pressure is on, Lydia is spot on and just handles it all. When I played with her that first time, it didn’t feel like she was a little girl. She was very mature. She looked young but she had a great temperament. You wouldn’t have thought she was just 13 at that time. She’s in the spotlight all the time now, but she’s taken on the role and handles it well.”
Hull, who was also on that winning Curtis Cup team at Nairn three years, is another teenager doing a fine job in trying to rid golf of its fuddy duddy image. “Yes, it’s great seeing so many young players coming up, like Charley,” confessed Boulden. “The future is very bright. It’s an exciting period. The game is changing all the time. There is still that perception that it is an old man’s sport, but it is changing. A lot of young girls are playing, and there are a lot taking it up back home in north Wales. There’s plenty to be positive about.”