Carrick-on-Suir Golf Club has a new rising star in women’s golf - a 17 year-old Leaving Cert student, who has dramatically slashed her handicap this year.
Ann-Marie Gough’s performances have been creating quite a stir among much more experienced players at the Club.
The Scoil Mhuire student from St Molleran’s, Carrickbeg, started playing golf at the age of 14 by renting out clubs at the Tinhalla Golf Driving Range and playing rounds with a friend.
Ann-Marie and 11 other young female players at Tinhalla were taken under the wing of Carrick Golf Club members Mary Lonergan and Fidelma Morrissey, who introduced them to Carrick-on-Suir Golf Club .
Her dad, a former member of the golf club, taught her the basic skills of the sport.
She enjoyed the game so much that she joined the club as a junior player in 2009. She purchased her own set of clubs last Christmas and began playing competitively in April.
Ann-Marie, who is daughter of William and Stella Gough, is currently Carrick-on-Suir Golf Club’s only junior women’s golfer playing competitively.
Over the past few months she has competed with the club’s senior ladies golfers at their weekly Wednesday competitions and reduced her handicap from 20 to 9 since April, which is a dramatic improvement.
In the Club’s Lady Captain’s Prize competition during the summer, Ann Marie broke her short term target of completing the course in under 80 shots, which was six over par for the course, and reduced her handicap from 15 to 12.
She won the student prize and another prize for the longest drive on the fifth hole in the competition where she was up against much more experienced and older players.
A few days later, she also bagged a prize in the Club’s Lady’s Presidents Prize for the longest drive on the 18th hole and completed the course once again under 80 shots, this time four over par.
Ann-Marie also competed in her first two Irish Lady’s Golf Union competitions outside the club this summer at the Heath Golf Club in Co. Kildare and Rosslare Golf Club.
She absolutely loves the sport and encourages other young women to take it up.
She previously played soccer, gaelic games, tennis, rugby and did horse riding but for her golf is the game.
“I find it interesting and addictive. Once you start hitting your shots sweet you want to keep going and doing better ones,” she said.
She also believes it’s one of the most difficult sports to play and it teaches you to have a good sporting spirit because you only have yourself to blame for performing badly.
“You have the frustration of hitting a bad shot while on another day you are on fire on the course.
“You are trying to beat yourself all the time. If you are playing a good round and then the next round is bad you have to put up with it and accept it. I
“It teaches you to have manners and a very good attitude.”
Ann-Marie gets useful golf coaching tips and advice from professional players through Twitter, YouTube and other social networking media. Her golfing heroes are the US golfer Phil Mickelson, Italian player Matteo Manassero, who is only aged 19 and Spanish players Pablo Larrazabal and Javier Ballesteros. She has been in contact with some of these players through Twitter for advice on her game.
While Ann Marie is concentrating on her Leaving Cert studies at the moment, she has still set some goals to achieve in golf over the next year including getting her handicap down to eight or seven, compete in more ILGU competitions and improve her pitching and putting techniques.
She paid tribute to the the women members of Carrick-on-Suir Golf Club for all their support and encouragement.
“I wouldn’t be playing the game if it wasn’t for the women at the Club because they are so helpful. When they support me it gives me the push to go and try harder,” she said.