The Scottish Ladies Golfing Association (SLGA) paid the flight tickets for four players at United States colleges to fly home in a bid to field the strongest possible Scotland team in this year's women's home internationals at Cruden Bay but one important name was missing.
There was Heather MacRae from San Diego State, Louise Kenney and Laura Wells from Iowa State and Pamela Feggans from Florida Southern.
The Scots team did not lose a match but were pipped for the title by Ireland. But what if the SLGA selection committee had known that there was a fifth Scot based in America, whose golfing record over there during the summer compared favourably with any of the students' achievements?
She is Valerie Melvin, an international player herself in the mid-1990s, who could have provided skipper Elaine Farquharson-Black with the additional experienced and in-form player she lacked for the singles line-up.
Valerie was a Clydebank & District member when she took Catriona Matthew to the last green in the Scottish women's championship final of 1994 at Gullane. Miss Melvin was capped in the 1994 and 1996 women's home internationals and might well have played in more.
After a spell as the St Andrews-based editor of Golf Science International, working for the World Scientific Congress of Golf, Valerie moved to America and is now living, working and golfing in New Jersey. And it's not just 'any old job.'
Valerie is managing director of a successful golf company. This past week (January '04) she was named in the Roll of Honour for the season of the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association at a presentation in New York City.
his was a sequel to two events in particular in which Miss Melvin played well. She was beaten finalist in the 100th WMGA match-play championship at Fairmount Country Club, Chatham in New Jersey.
'Despite having my first ever hole-in-one, and being the leading qualifier, I lost by 5 and 3 to Adrienne MacLean in the 36-hole final,' said Valerie, who now represents Hamilton Farm Golf Club, New Jersey.
'Then, in June, I won the Women's Metropolitan Amateur Championship, which is open to competitors from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. It was played over a course called Tuxedo in New York State.
'I was asked to play in the New Jersey team in the USGA women's state team championship at the end of September but had to decline the invitation because my sister was getting married.'
Valerie's outstanding form in 2003 on foreign shores was achieved with a 'Frankly Putter' which she helped to develop and ultimately wrote the instructions for use that go with the club.
'It is the only putter that comes with a complete learning system, designed to help improve putting,' she said.
'I used my sports psychology training and liaised with many leading teaching professionals and psychologists to develop the system to help golfers, which is the mission of the Frankly Golf company.
'I live and work in New Jersey although I travel extensively with my job as managing director of Frankly Golf. You can look us up on the web at www.franklygolf.com. Frank Thomas, president of Frankly Golf, worked with the USGA for 26 years as technical director and set the standards for all the clubs and balls used in the game in the States.
'It was Frank who "invented" the graphite shaft, introduced the Stimpmeter and helped developed the USGA handicap system. He is currently chief technical adviser to the American magazine, Golf Digest, and also to the TV Golf Channel.'
And the last word from Gillian Kirkwood, the Gullane-based former SLGA chairman.
'When I was over in the States in September, I played with Dot Polack at Baltusrol. Dot is on the USGA women's committee and is also involved in metropolitan golf. She was singing the praises of Valerie's golf and said she was an excellent ambassador for Scotland. Well done, Valerie.'
|| 23 - JANUARY 2004