When Scotland's Clare Queen was crowned British Girls' Championship last month it completely transformed her summer.
The victory earned a first overseas trip with a Scottish team - to a Belgian Junior tournament - she was invited to compete in the Daily
Telegraph/Center Parks Junior Tournament in Sea Island, Georgia, and still has another date to look forward to, the Duke of York Champion of Champions, at Royal Lytham later this month.
'It really has been hectic,' agreed the two-handicap 18-yar-old. 'But I'm loving every minute.'
In fact, she has just returned from the Sea Island, where she produced another super summer's performance to finish second behind the defending champion from England, Sophie Walker.
It was a fantastic trip,' she admitted.
Amid the whirlwind of activity, Clare is still managing to keep her feet on the ground. With seven Highers to her name, she is looking forward to
starting a business studies degree at Strathclyde University next month.
And it will not be until she has a degree safely on her CV that she will make any decision on whether she could possibly make her living by playing golf.
'I did consider going to America on a golf scholarship, but I wanted to get a really good degree,' she explained. 'However, golf will still play a big part.
'I'll be out of the juniors next year and one of my aims will be to get into the Scottish senior team. I was a reserve this year so, maybe in a couple of years' time I'll make the full side.'
Unusually, it wasn't Clare's parents that introduced her to the game. It was her grandfather, Frank Fox, who can claim the credit.
'I was about 12 when I tagged along with him to Easter Moffat and I took to it right away.'
In fact, Frank noticed great early promise and a Christmas present of a set of clubs helped fuel the enthusiasm.
Another plus for Clare, who comes from Coatbridge, is the encouragement she received from the moment she joined her local club, Drumpellier. While many
ladies' sections almost resent good girl golfers, she looks back on the early days with nothing but pleasure.
'The ladies were brilliant,' she gratefully reflected. "They would arrange to take girls out on Saturdays and help them get handicaps. They were
always very supportive.'
She also pays credit to the Scottish National coach, Ian Rae. Clare teamed up with the Drumoig-based professional two years ago and she said: 'We get
on really well and he makes everything very easy to understand. Ian has done so much for my game.'
While Scottish women's golf is delighted to have Clare climbing up the ranks, women's football is probably regretting her choice to hit a wee white ball instead of following her initial sporting instinct to kick a
She was a promising county footballer - 'I played every position, but usually midfield' - before deciding that the risk of injuries was too
great. This year, she made it a county sporting double by capturing the Lanarkshire County Championship.
Clare cites her iron play as the strongest part of her game, and putting as the weakest. And when I spoke to her this week, she could hardly contain the excitement at having added a bundle of yards from the tee.
'I've just tried one of the Callaway ERC II drivers and I'm hitting it 30 to 40 yards further,' she said in tones of amazement. 'I'm definitely a convert.'
So exciting times stretch ahead for Scotland's most promising youngster, with university, golf and a whole set of new doors set to be opened.
|| 13 - SEPTEMBER 2001