She may be a proud American, but the player set to be crowned as No 1 on the Ladies European Tour lives in Scotland and, moreover, has seen her game move to the next level thanks to the input of one of the home of golf’s leading coaches. Step forward Beth Allen, who is enjoying the best season of her career and is now hoping to make it really special as the Edinburgh-based player tackles two big assignments either side of her 35th birthday next Tuesday.
Along with three Scots, namely Gemma Dryburgh, Sally Watson and Kylie Walker, Allen is among 157 hopefuls setting out at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida, today in the final of the LPGA Qualifying School. Allen, in fact, is the top-ranked player in the field, having risen to 63rd in the world on the back of a season that has yielded two LET titles – the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi – as well as six other top 10s.
From Florida, where her objective is finishing in the top 20 to secure a full LPGA Tour card, the San Diego native will head straight to the United Arab Emirates for next week’s Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the final event of the LET season. Holding a commanding lead at the top of the standings, Allen is on course to become the first American player to win the European money list, and she says it is all down to the happiness she’s found in her adopted home, both in golf and in life.
“They say a happy golfer is a successful one and living in Scotland makes me happy,” said Allen. “I love the country, the golf and the people. I am now happily married [to Claire Queen, a former LET player herself and now a member of Scottish Golf’s performance team] in Scotland and have a great new family in addition to my own family in the States.
“Living in Edinburgh has been great and being so close to Scotland’s Golf Coast has been a real treat. I play a lot at North Berwick, which is kind of a dream come true as I fell in love with the place the first time I played there in 2010. I also play quite a bit at Musselburgh Monktonhall with my good friend on Tour, Vikki Laing. That is a really great parkland course and a good place to prepare for an event. I mostly practice at the Braid Hills Golf Centre as it is close and really convenient.”
Cynics would claim that Allen seems to have been unaffected by a negativity that often seems prevalent in Scotland, both in society and sport. “I’ve heard of this Scottish negativity, but I don’t see it,” she insisted. “The Scots I know on Tour are some of the most positive women I know, so I would like to think they haven’t been affected by it either. It is really up to the individual how they decide to deal with stigmas from their countries.”
Allen had four lean years on the LPGA Tour before turning her attention to the European circuit in 2009. She recorded her breakthrough success in last year’s ISPS Handa European Masters at the Buckinghamshire, before really growing in stature this season.
“It is difficult to put my finger on a specific factor, but I think experience has helped me tremendously,” admitted the graduate of California State University at Northridge. “I had only been playing golf for eight years before I qualified to play on the LPGA, so I was relatively young in golf years. Now, 20 years after I started playing I feel like I have learned how to win and get the most out of my game. I also have been working with Ian Rae for about 18 months and he has been a great help really fine tuning my swing and helping me with my overall game.
“Winning the Order of Merit would be amazing. The LET is really special to me. I am on the board and I will always consider it my home Tour. It would also be awesome to make history and be the first American to ever win the money title.
“As for getting my card back on the LPGA, that would be a bonus. I don’t plan on playing out there full-time, but it would be nice if I could pick a schedule and be able to play wherever I want.”