SCOTLAND may have picked up the women’s wooden spoon for the third year running but national coach Kevin Craggs is adamant there’s no need to use that to stir up the amateur system in the home of golf.
The disappointment at Scotscraig, where Wales crushed the hosts 7-2 in the final round of matches to claim the title with a 100 per cent record over the three days, came hot on the heels of the men’s Walker Cup taking place without a Scot involved for only the second time in the event’s history.
It led Ian Hutcheon, a legendary figure in the amateur game, to call for a “rethink” by the Scottish Golf Union over its squad and coaching system and now the same request could be made of the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association.
But, while not trying to disguise his disappointment or any of the players on duty in North-East Fife, Craggs, who has helped Catriona Matthew climb to world No 7 since becoming her coach, insisted the Home Internationals alone shouldn’t be used to gauge the health of the women’s game in Scotland.
He pointed to a bronze medal performance in the European Team Championship as recently as 2010 as evidence of more encouraging signs and said that a sixth-place finish in the girls’ equivalent in Sweden earlier this year provided genuine hope for a bright future.
“I don’t think we need to go away and go back to basics because I’m quite excited about where we are going with the current crop of players and think we are doing a lot of things right at the moment,” said Craggs.
“It would be a different story if we were walking away from here after being beaten 9-0 in every game, but the matches against Ireland (a 4.5-4.5 draw) and England (a 5-4 defeat) were both very close.
“There are still things that need to improve and we’ll go away and do that. We got pelters a few years ago when people were claiming we couldn’t chip and putt but I’ve got the stats to show we have putted pretty solidly compared to where we were.”
Deprived of four probable first-choice players due to US college commitments, it was a particularly young Scottish side on this occasion and, as had been the case the previous two days, the home players certainly couldn’t be accused of lacking fight, especially in the singles.
Three down with three to play, the gutsy Eilidh Briggs took Curtis Cup player Amy Boulden the full distance, as did 16-year-old Connie Jaffrey against Katherine O’Connor, while Scottish champion Alyson McKechin and Hannah McCook both recovered from being down early on to finish all square against Katie Bradbury and Becky Harries respectively.
Chloe Williams chalked up her sixth win of the week at the expense of Lauren Whyte, but the Scottish spirit was epitomised by Heather Munro as she came from one down at the turn to beat Samantha Birks 3 and 2.
“Providing these girls retain a desire and enthusiasm I am confident we will be back contending for the title before too long,” insisted Craggs.
It was the second time Wales had claimed the crown on Scottish soil in five years, having also tasted success at Irvine Bogside in 2009. “We have so few girls to pick from that we can’t leave anybody out, but there’s a great team spirit and we have a strong backbone in Amy Boulden, Chloe Williams and Becky Harries,” said coach Jeremy Bennett.