THOUSANDS of people each year visit Scotland to walk in the footsteps of golfing greats by playing the Old Course at St Andrews, the Home of Golf.
Fifteen-year-old Adel Watt elevated the experience to a much higher level by not only playing the course, but winning a championship on it, too.
The Cookridge Hall member qualified via stroke play for the Girls’ Open Quaich in the St Andrews Junior Ladies’ Open and then battled her way past three match play opponents to lift the trophy.
The seven-handicapper had to dig deep to avoid falling at the first match-play hurdle, though, having found herself four down through four holes of her quarter-final with Baberton’s Ella Marshall, to whom she was ceding 13 shots.
“I just tried to play my own game and forget about everything else, but it was difficult being four down after four,” said Adel, adding with modest understatement: “I played quite well after that.”
‘Quite well’ enough to win eight of the next 12 holes to advance 3&2 to a semi-final against Fulford’s Hannah Kelly, in which she trailed before wresting control at the 11th on her way to a one-hole win.
She had to give four shots in the final against Lilleshall Hall’s Isla McDonald O’Brien, but won emphatically 3&2 thanks to playing the front nine in gross par.
It meant she won a trophy on her first round on the Old Course and helped make amends for a semi-final loss in the same competition last year.
It also added gloss to a wonderful homeward run in qualifying when she played the inward nine on the Strathtyrum course in two under gross.
She had gone out in 40 and thought she needed to play par on the back nine to stand a chance of qualifying.
“It was quite windy and for the first nine a lot of the holes were into wind and the ball was just coming up short on all the shots to the green,” recalled Adel.
“So for the second nine I thought, ‘right, I shall just take an extra club up to make sure I reach the green’. I was then hitting greens so I was able to make pars and birdies.”
Her burgeoning talent might have been lost to the world of athletics for she was an accomplished runner until growing pains led her to seek an alternative sport.
Golf lessons at Wike Ridge followed and since taking the game up, aged nine, her handicap has tumbled from 31 to seven, with her name featuring on Cookridge Hall honours boards as a permanent reminder of her achievements at club level. This week she hopesg to impress at national level in the English Girls’ Under-16 Open Championship at Blackmoor, in Hampshire.
Her mum Ruth gets to play only occasional golf because she is busy chauffering Adel to events and might be expected to play that role for some while yet. For Adel’s eight-year-old sister Amy has recently started to have golf lessons and seems certain to be inspired by her sibling’s successes.
“Between the two of them I am busy ferrying them to one thing or another,” laughed Ruth.
“I hope to be able to start playing again when they have both flown the nest.”