Throughout the remainder of the holiday season, we will provide a look back at some of the best content from our writers at Global Golf Post Plus. This article originally published on Aug. 18. Enjoy.
Meghan MacLaren, who finished second behind Daan Huizing in the 2019 Jordan Mixed Open – the first event of its kind in the UK – has been rueing the extent to which strategy has gone missing from the modern game. “Golf,” she maintains, “should be more about artistry than stats.”
That thought first started to swirl around this prolific blogger’s head after she had watched Bryson DeChambeau hammering shots from A to B without giving a thought to the doglegs and cleverly placed bunkers beneath his flight path.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Meghan’s multifarious ideas would be like other people’s in popping up at all the wrong moments. Hers, though, stay nicely in check until her golf clubs are safely out of the way. “Then,” she says, “they explode.”
In the course of her DeChambeau-detonated blog, the 26-year-old Englishwoman made pertinent reference to “a strange twist that comes from modern equipment, technical improvements and increased physical understanding.” Namely that, generally speaking, it is nowadays the female of the professional golfing species who are hitting the ball distances which accord with how good courses were designed to be played. Plenty of golfers would tend to agree with her.
The courses in play on the Rose Ladies Series – including Royal St George’s – had redoubled her belief on that score. “Power,” she said, “is a skill but, first and foremost, I love strategy. Everyone in the modern professional game can carry the ball through the air, but to be able to maneuver it and to change the flight is another thing again.”
With regard to her own golf, the skill this two-time winner on the LET covets the most in her armoury is an ability to shape the ball both ways to a specific distance. “I don’t know where it came from but it’s something I found I could do and I’ve honed it,” she said. For another “like” about her game, she picks on how much she relishes the challenge of reading a difficult green.
MacLaren was interesting in regard to her approach to the 18-hole events involved in the Rose tournaments. It was never a question of, “these will be easy after year upon year of preparing for four rounds every week.” Her approach involved forgetting the old mindset she used to employ before lock-down and deciding that the best way ahead was to start from scratch and see what happened on the day. She proceeded to win the second of the tournaments – at Moor Park – with a 69 in which she won by two after swallowing the disappointment of a two-shot penalty for hitting a wrong ball at the 11th.
MacLaren, who won the key point for Great Britain & Ireland in the 2016 Curtis Cup in Ireland, made no secret of how much she enjoyed having a run of tournaments, all of which were accessible by car. Yet, comfortable experience though that was, it did nothing to dampen her desire to become a world player. “Being at Florida International University broadened my horizons,” she said. “I saw all the players in the college team doing things in different ways and I loved that side of the experience. I’ll always want to see new countries and new cultures though, for me at least, it will always be less about seeing the famous touristy stops than finding out about the people.”
You ask how she found the American golfers she met in college days vis-a-vis the UK version and, here again, there was an interesting reply at the ready.
“For the most part, I found that they were less inclined to talk about their weaknesses than we are,” she said. “Personally, I like to be honest with myself and to spell out what I’ve done badly on a bad day. I don’t allow myself to make excuses in the event of a high score.”
At the same time, however, she has learned not to be over-critical of her performances. “I’ve come to understand that there will be days when you simply don’t get much out of a round.”
“If I told you the No. 1 player in the world broke a nearly 20-year-old record held by Tiger Woods when she went 114 consecutive holes without a bogey, would you know who it was? – Meghan MacLaren
As you would expect, MacLaren thinks a lot about the inequalities in golf. Not too long ago, she got progressively more peeved as she trawled through 200 pages of a well-known golf magazine before coming to the first picture of a female golfer. Much the same applied with the newspapers she looked at next. Columns and columns of men’s sport before the women got a mention.
In a blog post entitled “In our shoes,” she introduced a compelling list of women’s feats which had probably passed unnoticed among the male golfing fraternity. Herewith just two from the selection:
“If I told you the No. 1 player in the world broke a nearly 20-year-old record held by Tiger Woods when she went 114 consecutive holes without a bogey, would you know who it was?
“If I told you a rookie had a win, more top-10s and more runner-up finishes than Robert McIntyre last year, would you be able to name her?”
You have to wonder how many, if any, men passed that test. (For the record, the first of the answers was Jin Young Ko, and the second Jeongeun Lee6.)
MacLaren finds it unutterably sad. “Time after time, we’re told that our abilities and achievements as golfers simply don’t matter to the average fan,” she said. “Can you begin to understand how that feels?” And, by way of a follow-on, you have to wonder if anyone tried to.
In contrast to her craving for the days when strategy mattered rather more, I asked MacLaren to take a look into the future with regard to the women’s game. Where did she think it would be 10 years from now?
Almost in the same breath, this gifted all-rounder said that while things were changing for the better, there was still a long way to go. In other words, she is not at all sure that equality is just around the corner.
Top: Meghan MacLaren during the Rose Ladies Series at the Shire London on July 30. (Naomi Baker, Getty Images)
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