LG Meets: Victorious Curtis Cup captain Elaine Farquharson-Black
No Curtis Cup victory should ever be underestimated. Great Britain and Ireland will always come into the matches as the underdogs and, generally speaking, it plays out as such.
We have only picked up the trophy once in the past 20 years – four years ago a golden generation staged a brilliant comeback at Nairn – and this time around one of that team, Bronte Law, did something that only former world No 1 Stacy Lewis had managed, winning all five matches.
But the Curtis Cup is never about one player, it’s about the team and the spirit within that team. At Dun Laoghaire in Ireland this year, GB&I captured five of the six points on the middle day to lead by four and hung on.
We caught up with the winning captain Elaine Farquharson-Black to relive a special week in September.Did you form a close relationship with the girls?
I think the team bonded really well and that showed on and off the course. I wanted the players to enjoy the whole experience and make memories that will last a lifetime and I’d like to think that they did that.
As a captain you have to earn the players’ trust and respect so that they know that they can come to you, in confidence, to discuss issues with you.
We had a lot of fun, both on and off the course but what goes on in the team room stays in the team room!Did they stick to strict routine in the week leading up to the Curtis Cup?
We were based at the Castle Golf Club the week before and this was very low key and relaxed. I tried to avoid early mornings as there would be plenty of that once the match began.
We played a match against the men’s senior cup team, but we mainly focused on short-game practice as the Castle has a great par 3 course which, amazingly, has the greens from the old Dun Laoghaire course.
We went to the gym, went on a Viking Tour of Dublin, went out for dinner etc. Once we moved to Dun Laoghaire we tailored our practice schedule, often only playing nine holes, to avoid lots of early rises until the match itself.You let the players decide what they would wear in the competition…
We had great gear from Green Lamb and FootJoy. If the players are comfortable and know they look good, they can concentrate on their golf.
The team chose the outfits for the week, working backwards from what they wanted to be wearing on the last day when they lifted the trophy!
Did the two teams socialise together?
I’m not sure what routine the Americans followed. On the Monday both teams went off to do a joint activity in Dublin and then out for dinner. They all had to attend various social functions together, so the players met up at these occasions as well.
With many of the GB & I players at college in the US, and indeed potentially on the same college team as the American players, there are already friendships (and rivalries!) between the teams.How has the competition changed since you played in it?
When I played in 1990 and 92 the format of the match was different – it was held over two days rather than three, with foursomes and singles on each day. There were no four balls.
I don’t think any of us went to the gym in the early 90s but, other than that, I think it remains remarkably similar. It remains the pinnacle of a female amateur’s career to be selected.
I was keen for the players to identify with the history and appreciate that they were part of something special which is why I had photos of the previous GB&I winning teams up in the locker room.
Was anyone picky about what they ate on the trip? Was alcohol allowed at all?
Ahead of the trip Helen Hewlett, our team manager, ascertained everyone’s likes and dislikes for food on and off the course so that we could make sure that the catering in the team room was exactly what the players wanted.
We ate breakfast and lunch in the team room at the golf club and dinner in the team room at the hotel. The players are all pretty healthy – water, tea and coffee were the drinks of the week until we’d won!Was it eye-opening for you to spend so much time with girls who are all mainly in their late teens or early twenties?
I have two boys (aged 12 and 17) and I am the junior convenor at my club so I’m used to being around ‘youngsters’. In fact, the team have done so much and are so mature, that sometimes it is easy to forget that they are late teens/early twenties.
We had music on in the team cars and in the locker room, usually at pretty high volume! Some of it I liked better than others.Have the girls got you into taking selfies?
I’m not a great selfie fan – Olivia is best at that. I prefer to be behind the camera but I do take a lot of pictures of the team to capture the moment for them.
I probably tweeted more than the players in the lead up to and during the event as I was trying to stimulate interest in the event.
The LGU used #EveryGreatTeam as the strap line for social media during the week and I think that captured the sentiment well.
We had a WhatsApp group chat where everyone could post messages and that was used for everything from uniform for the day, to what time to meet and where, to some rather un flattering old pictures of each other!
The team still keeps in touch through that group which is really nice.The Curtis Cup is a bi-annual event played between the best amateurs in Great Britain & Ireland and USA. Find out more about the Curtis Cup on the Ladies Golf Union website here.
Follow Elaine on twitter: @efb615