Not everyone’s week at Birkdale went according to plan. Ladies’ European Tour player Holly Aitchison came through Final Qualifying in some style, collecting eight birdies and an eagle in a 69 at Southport & Ainsdale to finish third of 66 hopefuls.

This would be a first Major appearance and a chance to play alongside the very best. However, come the end of the week, her Open dreams had been dashed by thick rough and deep bunkers. Her rounds of 84-84 were most likely her worst as a professional
But, rather than hide away, she wrote this entertaining, honest and amusing blog of her week in Southport.

So my British Open week didn’t go to plan! I have to say even though the result wasn’t what I wanted, it was a pretty awesome week with a very deserving winner.

My journey to Birkdale was rushed as it always is when you have to go to Final Qualifying. Eighteen holes on Monday, spot secured and first job done. Monday evening was spent finding accommodation and then a trip to the course trying to figure out where everything was… range, locker room, players’ lounge, 1st tee, tournament offices etc etc. Oh and collecting my goodie bag!

I remember playing Birkdale as an amateur and unsurprisingly it was very different. It’s an amazing feeling to walk into a Major for the first time, both exciting and satisfying especially when you have qualified to be there. The next couple of days were spent playing the course, practising and sending videos to my coach.

My swing still isn’t as consistent as I would like so I was trying to get it in the best position for one of the most difficult courses I have ever played.

I finished strong but also embarrassed, I didn’t quite know what to do. Royal Birkdale was playing seriously tough; rough rough and impossible bunkers with one hell of a starting hole! Thursday came round quickly and I found myself being announced on the 1st tee feeling excited, nervous and everything in between. This was a little more special as I had my dad on the bag and it felt good to have him by my side experiencing it with me.
I smoked my tee shot and ended up with a par: woo hoo, sweet relief! That however was short lived as an eagle on the 6th was followed by the dreaded shank (sorry but I’ve never understood the fear of that word!) on the 7th tee – I made a triple and lost my head briefly.
My next mistake was on the 12th, I pulled it slightly into the left bunker and spent a lot more time in there than I wanted to! I only had one bunker shot all week where I could get both my feet in and this wasn’t the one. I eventually tapped in for a nine on a par 3, the crowd even clapped my last putt which at the time actually made me chuckle! I finished strong but also embarrassed, I didn’t quite know what to do. I had dropped all my shots in a couple of holes. What do I work on, how do I improve?
I didn’t actually know, so naturally I went to the beach!

Next morning deep breath and start again, with a seven…. followed by another seven. Embarrassment set in again and I struggled for the first 10 holes. I stood on 11 and said to myself I can either continue like this or attempt to rescue my golf (and my mental health) and finish strong. I pulled it together and even made a birdie at the 17th!! I walked off feeling shame, embarrassment, anger and fear of what others would think. It probably took me a couple of hours to get my head round it all, lucky for me I have a great family, boyfriend and friends.

We headed into Southport, purchased some beers and had fish and chips and a beer by the sea front, perfection! Being at home gave me a chance to really think about the week and a chat with my parents and my coach (his opening line being ‘I’m glad you haven’t topped yourself!’) has made me draw a line under it extremely quickly. I have really moved forward in the last couple of years and, while I would prefer not to have finished where I did, I know not to let it bother me and to learn and move forward.

Subscribe to NCG