Why Lorna McClymont display at Portmarnock was so timely for Scottish golf

Milngavie member does her bit to help grow women’s golf in Scotland

While I’ve never actually met Lorna McClymont in person, she’s become one of my favourite Scottish players over the recent years and now seems like a good time to explain why.

It wasn’t to be for the Milngavie member in Saturday’s final of the 121st R&A Women’s Amateur Championship at Portmarnock, where she lost to American Melanie Green on the final green in the 36-hole title decider, but it was one of those occasions when you almost wished the prize could have been shared.

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In atrocious conditions for most of the day at the Dublin venue, both finalists gave it absolutely everything they had at the end of an exhausting week and, on another day, McClymont could easily have come out on top.

Milngavie's Lorna McClymont had her mum Gail caddying for her in the latter stages of the 121st Women's Amateur Championship at Portmarnock. Picture: Kathryn ImrieMilngavie's Lorna McClymont had her mum Gail caddying for her in the latter stages of the 121st Women's Amateur Championship at Portmarnock. Picture: Kathryn Imrie
Milngavie's Lorna McClymont had her mum Gail caddying for her in the latter stages of the 121st Women's Amateur Championship at Portmarnock. Picture: Kathryn Imrie

Yes, she’d have been disappointed to see an early 4 up lead in the two-round battle disappear and then find herself two down with nine holes to play, but it was terrific to see a player flying the Saltire knuckle down the way she did to get her nose back in front again with three holes to play.

That she didn’t hold on to that lead and secure spots in two upcoming majors – the Amundi Evian Championship in France and AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews – was partly down to some untimely bad luck as a brilliant approach at the par-5 16th – the 34th hole – trundled through the green when it looked though she’d set up a certain birdie and maybe even an eagle.

That’s golf, though, and while disappointed by the eventual outcome as Green birdied two of the last three holes to become the first American to claim the coveted crown since 1996, it was no surprise to hear McClymont say that she’d felt “proud” of her performance.

Her country should be feeling likewise because this was the latest example of McClymont being a brilliant ambassador for Scottish golf, both in terms of delivering success and also for the way she comes across as being level headed and down to earth.

In recent years, she’d won two Irish Women’s Opens, a Welsh Women’s Open and numerous student titles during a spell at the University of Stirling, where she graduated at the end of the last term.

On a few of other occasions, opportunities on home soil had slipped from her grasp so, in some respect, justice was done when McClymont was crowned as the Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship at Nairn Dunbar last month and now, albeit as a beaten finalist on this occasion, her confidence has been boosted even more. “It lets me know I am good enough to compete at this level,” she admitted to this correspondent on the drive home from Ireland on Sunday evening.

It would now be a major surprise if McClymont doesn’t join her compatriot, Hannah Darling, in making the Great Britain & Ireland team for the Curtis Cup at Sunningdale in September, where the home side will be led into battle against the Americans by back-to-back Solheim Cup-winning captain Catriona Matthew.

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“It would be a dream to play in the Curtis Cup,” admitted McClymont, who, after spending a few days at home recharging the batteries, will be hoping to maintain her eye-catching form when she pulls on Scotland colours in next week’s European Women’s Team Championship in Spain, “Catriona is such a role model for all of us and having her as a captain would be really amazing.”

McClymont’s performance at Portmarnock was timely for Scottish Golf, with the governing body having recently been given the green light to implement a plan to increase female playing membership in this country to 30,000, which would represent a 15 per cent increase on the 2023 figure, by 2027.

CEO Robbie Clyde admits that plan is “ambitious” but, if the interest in the likes of both McClymont and fellow amateur star Hannah Darling is anything to go by when they are getting themselves in contention in big events, there certainly seems scope to use such achievements in a positive way.

By all accounts, Gail McClymont, Lorna’s mum and her caddie for the latter stages last week – “we’d always said that was a no, no, but it was nice to have her there and have someone to talk to as much as anything” - does a sterling job in her role as junior convenor at Milngavie and here’s hoping a new generation of girl golfers has been inspired there and all around the country as well by the club’s current leading light.

“My mum has done a lot of great stuff for the juniors at Milngavie and I help out as much as I can when I am free because that’s what helped me when I was growing up,” said McClymont, who, it must be said, seems the type, similar to Bob MacIntyre, who will never forget her roots.

There’s been a lot of rubbish spouted over the past couple of years about either this or that being aimed at ‘growing golf’, but there’s still nothing that comes close to what can be achieved in that respect through some of the most historic events in the game.

“It was so nice to see a few young girls out watching on Saturday and then wanting pictures taken with you at the end of the match,” observed McClymont of why amateur tournaments run by The R&A and other bodies like Scottish Golf deserve to be in the spotlight at certain times of the year.

Yes, it’s events like the Genesis Scottish Open, The Open, Scottish Women’s Open and AIG Women’s Open that really drive interest in the game and we’re in for a treat over the coming few weeks as those big tournaments are held at the Renaissance Club, Royal Troon, Dundonald Links and St Andrews respectively.

But here in Scotland in particular we should always value almost in equal terms what the amateur game can deliver and hats off to McClymont for reminding us about that.



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