Scotland has real girl power in Hannah Darling and Grace Crawford

These are giddy times for girls’ golf in Scotland. Still only 18, Hannah Darling sits just outside the top 10 in the Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking and now 15-year-old Grace Crawford looks as though she is another star in the making.

Her mighty-impressive weekend win in the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open was the first by a home player in an event concluding at Royal Troon after two opening circuits on Troon Portland since Heather Stirling did the trick 20 years ago.

Crawford joins talented duo Leona Maguire (2009) and Pia Babnik (2019) as fairly recent winners on the Ayrshire coast, where the prize was also landed by Catriona Lambert (before she became Matthew) in 1990.

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“Great win,” wrote two-time winning Solheim Cup captain Matthew in a post on Twitter in being one of the first to congratulate fellow North Berwick player Crawford on her four-shot success on Sunday. “Very happy for you.”

Grace Crawford shows off the Helen Holm Scottish Women's Open trophy following her win at Royal Troon. Picture: Scottish Golf

It’s been known for some time in East Lothian that Crawford, a Stephen Gallacher Foundation ambassador, was an exciting young talent, having claimed lots of junior titles from as early as eight-years-old.

It was only a matter of time before she landed something big and, thanks to a closing four-under 68 on Royal Troon, that was delivered in style as Crawford was the only player to finish in red figures after 54 holes.

Last autumn, Crawford was absolutely delighted to be handed a last-minute opportunity to take up a spot in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Shortly after that, she headed out to the Bahamas to become a new member of the Albany Golf Academy, an elite training programme based at the venue for the Hero World Challenge.

Kathryn Imrie and Catriona Matthew pose for a photograph after the announcement of the European Solheim Cup team at Gleneagles in August , 2019. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images.

That’s a long way from home for a teenager, but, having bumped into her myself at that event last December, it was easy to see that Crawford was lapping up her chance in a lifetime.

She singled out her coach at Albany, Jon Hearn, for praise in a social media post marking her Troon triumph and it really is going to be extremely exciting indeed to see what now lies ahead for Crawford.

It was a brilliant move by Scottish Golf to get Catriona Matthew on board in a mentoring role towards the end of 2020 and more credit is due to the governing body for a similarly exciting latest appointment.

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Kathryn Imrie, the first Scot to win on the LPGA Tour and a two-time Solheim Cup vice captain under Matthew, is heading home from the US to become a new performance coach in June and will work specifically with the country’s top young female talent.

“At this point in my career, this is the perfect opportunity to return to Scotland to help influence and coach our future female golf stars,” said Imrie. “I’m extremely passionate about sharing my golf knowledge to help others succeed and I can’t wait to join the team.”

With the likes of Darling and Crawford among those she’ll be offering advice in tandem with Matthew, Imrie’s timing in terms of choosing now to return to her roots couldn’t be better.

Right now, in fact, seems the most exciting it’s been for a long time in girls’ golf in Scotland and hopefully this is just the beginning.

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Two-time Solheim Cup vice-captain Kathryn Imrie gets new Scottish Golf role

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