For Maggie Archibald, an 11-handicapper at Wishaw GC, July 28 was certainly a day she’ll never forget.
Selected as the winner of a competition run by VisitGolf Algarve and hosted on the bunkered website, Maggie soon found herself teeing it up in the pro-am at the RICOH Women’s British Open alongside seven-time major winner and US Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster.
“At first I didn’t believe that I’d won,” said Maggie, who has played golf for ten years. “I thought it was one of those joke emails that you get, so I got in touch with my friend who’d also entered and she told me I must’ve won. Obviously, I was really happy and I told everybody about it!”
Staying with a friend in Ayr the night before to best prepare for what would be an unforgettable day, she arrived at Turnberry for 10.30am, three hours before her 1.30pm tee time and soaked up the atmosphere and the thrill of being able to share the locker room with the world’s best.
Taking advantage of having access-all-areas, with the exception of the players’ lounge, Maggie spent time at the putting and chipping areas, as well as the driving range, before waiting alongside a very famous face for the minibus to take them to the 16th tee for their shotgun start.
“I was standing next to world No.2 Lydia Ko, which was perhaps one of the most surreal things that happened on the day, and once we arrived for our first tee shots, I felt pretty nervous but I cracked my drive straight down the fairway. To know that I got a good shot away settled the nerves for sure.”
The pro-am was Maggie’s first taste of the Ailsa Course at Turnberry and she revelled in the fact that she was playing the same course that the Women’s British Open was to be held on just two days later.
“It was a truly amazing experience. Just walking down the fairways with a caddie, they’re clubbing you and helping you on the greens, and then having spectators clapping some of the shots that you’re making, it was just fantastic.”
And after spending 18 holes in the company of Inkster, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, what did Maggie learn?
“How to get out a bunker first time for a start! Just being out there and watching what she was doing, looking at her club selection and the shape that she hit the ball. There was so much to learn and although she chatted a lot and gave us some advice, it wasn’t like a walking lesson, which I enjoyed.
"I even got a wee fist pump from Juli"
“As for my highlight of the day, it had to be a 35ft put I sunk on the 13th hole for a birdie for the team. It was an awesome feeling and I even got a wee fist pump from Juli afterwards which was great.”
Maggie’s team also performed well, finishing fourth overall – just outside the prizes – and after a drinks reception with canapés afterwards, she reflected on what had truly been a day that will live long in her memory.
“It was way beyond my expectations to be honest. To be able to stand on the tee with Juli and knowing what she’s achieved in the game was just brilliant and the freebies we got for participating and being there representing VisitGolf Algarve were just incredible.”
To find out more about VisitGolf Algarve, visit their Facebook page or follow @vstgolfalgarve on Twitter.