Getting the gold
On Sunday 30th August, second-year student Megan Ashley beat 20 other competitors around the Old Course to be crowned the winner of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s historic Local Clubs’ Gold Medal. With a scratch score of 68 (8 under par), Megan is excited to see what her golfing future holds.
Megan remarked that winning the prestigious event was a very pleasant surprise, as she hadn’t given the final position too much thought; having only been fuelled with excitement that she was finally competing in St Andrews again. After an excellent start to the round Megan reflected on her need to focus as she began to feel more nervous the further into the round she got. Approaching the 18th of the Old Course, Megan explained the feeling was ‘indescribable,’ knowing that she had a chance of finishing with a low score.
Unsurprisingly, competition has been extremely limited over recent months due to the pandemic stripping golfers of the opportunity to play. Megan admitted that winning the Local Clubs’ Women’s Gold Medal was not an idea that had crossed her mind as she was conscious of her time away from competing and the good players in the field too. During the competition Megan registered that she was hitting the ball well and had been scoring consistently, and so “just let things happen!”.
As one of the University’s 600 Club Performance Golf Scholars, Megan’s success builds on the achievements of the previous year. In August 2019, Megan represented Scotland at the Girls Home Internationals, competing against England, Ireland and Wales. Megan also played at her home club in the Barrie Douglas Scottish Junior Masters and finished runner up after a competitive third day. Just a week later, she won the Paul Lawrie Foundation Junior Jug at Pollok Golf Club in Glasgow, and a day later, the Scottish Girls Championship at Murrayshall Golf Club.
“It was all a bit of a whirlwind to be honest!”
The average training schedule for Megan is at least five days a week, with a mixture of practice on the driving range and short game. Although Megan remarked that the pandemic had impacted her golf season and usual routine, because she hadn’t played on the Old Course in 3 months, she sought alternative practices. Megan kept herself active by cycling and doing some home exercises, and equally continued maintaining a good rhythm in her swing by practising with a net and a club in her back garden.
Director of Golf, David Watt, commented that Megan has “worked diligently on her game and it is wonderful to see this hard work pay off, especially so soon after getting back to competition”. Adding to this, David remarked that the Golf Medal achieved by Megan is a prestigious one, and “very special here in the Home of Golf”.
Competing since the age of 14, Megan hopes to continue her success in competition this year, and come back to defend the historic Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s Local Clubs’ Gold Medal next year. The support and guidance she will receive through the University’s scholarship programme will give her every chance of doing just that.
Megan and eight other scholars are supported and funded through our 600 Club, which is our community of donors and supporters from around the world, in addition to Saints Sport, the R&A and the St Andrews Links Trust. We thank them and our colleagues in The Principal’s Office and Development for their continued and much valued support.