Meghan MacLaren has backed the history-making plan to stage the English Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships simultaneously at Woodhall Spa in July as another innovative step forward for golf.
The Ladies’ European Tour player and former England Golf graduate was this week the latest golfer to give up time and impart her knowledge of the game to our national squads via an online Q&A.
MacLaren looked back fondly on her amateur career with England and her time at Florida State University before making it onto tour.
In 2016, MacLaren was crowned European champion with England’s women’s amateur team – the same year she helped GB&I to win the Curtis Cup.
As a pro, MacLaren has won twice on the LET and has earned praise for her thought-provoking blogs about life on tour and her championing of the women’s game.
England Golf’s announcement last week that the staging of both the men’s and women’s amateur championship had been provisionally re-scheduled for the last week in July at the same venue has created a buzz.
MacLaren is a strong advocate of equality in the game and hopes the coronavirus situation has eased by then to allow the events to take place side-by-side as planned.
“It might only be because of circumstances, but it’s a brilliant opportunity to see how it works going forward,” admitted the 25-year-old pictured above playing for England in the 2013 European Ladies’ Team Championship.
“There are a couple of events like that on the pro circuit – the Vic Open in Australia is the main one. It’s two separate events for men and women, but staged at the same time.
“I think it’s cool that it could be considered normal.
“Men’s and women’s golf is different, but it doesn’t have to be different in terms of opportunities or prize funds at the pro level or levels of talent.
“It’s just golf being played by different genders and the earlier that becomes normal the better it is for the game as a whole.”
MacLaren’s chat with the class of 2020 provided more than an hour’s worth of insight into her career, her development and her hopes for the future.
As with previous guests, Matt Wallace and Matt Fitzpatrick, the questions flooded in and MacLaren was only too happy to give a little back to the organisation that gave her so much in her amateur career.
She added: “All the squads are in great hands with the coaches at their disposal.
“But sometimes it’s different to hear things from a player who has previously been in squads.
“A player might go through the emotion of not being picked for a team or not knowing if they are good enough to get on tour or not knowing how they stand in relation to the best players in the world.
“It can even be something as simple as being told it’s ok not to practice for a couple of days if you’re working on mental or physical things.
“Now this seems to me like common sense, but when I look back there was a lot that I didn’t know.
“I questioned a lot of things, but I didn’t really know where to find the answers.”
MacLaren still keeps tabs on the amateur game and in January caught up with women’s squad player Charlotte Heath in Australia.
Heath had qualified for the Vic Open after winning the Australian Women’s Amateur and the English contingent of Felicity Johnson, Hannah Burke, MacLaren and Heath (pictured above) enjoyed a rare photo opportunity.
“We were all on the putting green one day and it was cool to see different groups from England Golf coming together at an event like that,” said MacLaren.
“Charlotte did really well – I think out of the four of us she was the only one that made the cut. We had to learn from her!
“I still look at the amateur ranks and while I don’t know someone like Lily May Humphreys, I’ve seen how successful she has been and it’s intriguing for me to see what happens next.
“I loved my England days and still miss the input of being in a team environment – talking to coaches, players and practising together. You gain a lot from that and you only realise how much when it’s not there.”
In the coming weeks, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Mel Reid and Bronte Law will be next to pass on their wit, wisdom and experience to the squad via online webinars.