IT’S amazing who you can bump into at a golf tournament – even one more than 6,000 miles from home.
Out wandering the fairways at Durban Country Club, the person coming in the opposite direction looked distinctly like Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of golf operations and tournament director.
It was indeed and, having learned quickly in this business that you should never miss out on any interview opportunity, a tape recorder was swiftly shoved under her nose. “I live over here now, though down in Cape Town, where the climate is a bit more Mediterranean and not as humid as Durban,” she said. “I’ve been there for 11 months now and I’m enjoying it – the sunshine especially.
“I’d been on holiday to South Africa a few times and like both the lifestyle and cheaper cost of living. The people are also very friendly.”
Simpson, who cut her own golfing teeth at Carnoustie, played in Wednesday’s pro-am, with Tommy Fleetwood, one of the halfway leaders.
“He’s a super young man,” said the Scot of the reigning Johnnie Walker Championship title holder. “He didn’t putt well in the pro-am by his own standards but he’s obviously holed a fair few over the first two rounds.
“It’s nice to see someone else’s event and I’ve noticed some really good ideas and funky things here. They’ve got a chipping facility out of the back of a dumper truck, for instance, and that is pretty novel.”
Working remotely, Simpson is gearing up for the LGU’s two main events – the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Ladies British Amateur Championship. The former is at Royal Birkdale this year but, due to BBC scheduling for the Commonwealth Games, clashes with the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, while the latter is heading to men-only Royal St George’s.
“It will be interesting to see media attendance at Birkdale, but I believe the Women’s Open has a market of its own and so does the Scottish Open so hopefully it will all pan out quite nicely,” observed Simpson.
“As for the Amateur, it’s the first time we’ve held an event at Royal St George’s and we are being made to feel very welcome. In years gone by the LGU had a policy where we’d not go to a men-only golf club but that was voted out and now the policy is to go to the best courses.”
Meanwhile, a new selection policy is being introduced for the Great Britain & Ireland side to defend the Curtis Cup after a dramatic victory for the home team at Nairn in 2012.
Instead of eight straight picks, the side will now consist of the top four eligible players on the Women’s Amateur Golf Rankings, the top two on the LGU Order of Merit already not selected and two ‘wild cards’.