Meghan MacLaren: 'I know there’s no reason why I can’t win again'April 19, 2018 News & Tour
After celebrating her maiden victory at what was just her 11th event on the Ladies European Tour, the bright young player is hungry for more...
You’d imagine that having a father who is CEO of the European Senior Tour might put a significant amount of pressure on your game. But nobody places as much pressure on Meghan MacLaren as she does on herself.
The devoted Newcastle United fan is notorious for ‘always being on the putting green’, and with a brain that’s as sharp as her golf skills, she’s as driven and focused as they come.
Part of a generation who are notoriously unsure of what they want, she counts herself as ‘very lucky’ for always having golf to focus on.
Her blog gives an honest and considered account of life on tour, where her clever turn of phrase is a clear indication of her intelligence and level of maturity. She freely admits that writing things down helps her to make sense of things, and before turning pro she studied Politics while playing golf at Florida International University.
In fact, when the 23-year-old mentions sacrificing parts of her college experience for golf, you can imagine that she wasn’t the type to regularly waste whole days nursing a hangover.
This is a player who isn’t afraid to aim for perfection, and she certainly has the skills and personal discipline to get there.
Nothing proved this more than her win at the Women’s New South Wales Open in Australia. Most professionals spend years trying to get their name at the top of the scoreboard, but MacLaren made it into the winner’s circle at just her 11thevent on Tour.
Perhaps even she didn’t expect it to happen quite so soon, but now she’s already got her sights set on her next trophy…
How did it feel to get your first LET win?
To be honest it’s still quite hard to put it into words.
It’s one of those things that you want so much but you never let yourself believe that it’s actually going to happen. So it was almost a bit surreal when it did.
Has it given you more confidence?
Definitely, during that tournament I was just wondering why it couldn’t be like that every week.
But you have to get your perspective back and realise that golf isn’t like that, otherwise everyone would have wins in their career.
If I keep doing the things I’m doing and keep improving, I know there’s no reason why I can’t win again. I think the first win teaches you that. Everyone thinks they are capable of winning but it’s a lot more concrete after it has actually happened. Nobody can take that away from you and it’s not something that you have to try and make yourself believe any more.
Did writing your blog help you process your win?
That blog was mainly to show people that a lot of the time you can be a lot closer to something than you think you are.
When I stopped trying to figure out why I was struggling it all came together. Golf is sometimes just hard for no reason.
Getting a win at a time when I wasn’t expecting it has taught me a lot. I’ve realised that I don’t need to chase anything or change things.
I’m guilty of being too hard on myself at times. You need take what you’ve learnt from a tournament and then just move on and focus on the next one; that’s when things start falling into place.
Do you think it was quite early in your career to get your first win?
It’s a lot easier for me to look back now and recognise that it did happen fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things. But in every single event I’ve played I’ve thought that I should be contending to win and wondering if it would ever happen.
Now I accept that maybe I was being a bit impatient but I don’t want to change that mindset, I’ll always be there to win every week.
You mention in your blog that your success was partly down to trusting your own instincts?
I was struggling quite a little bit out in Australia and sometimes it’s quite hard to put your finger on what isn’t right.
So I went back to trusting my strengths and working on my short game. I did all the things that I normally do and when it clicked during that week I had to trust that it wasn’t all suddenly going to fall apart. I felt like I was too in control for that to happen.
I had missed a couple of cuts during the months before but I knew that things were nowhere near as far away as the scores might have implied.
You also mentioned that it was down to ‘small details’?
I’m lucky to have such a good team around me and my coaches are so good at recognising the small things that can really make a difference. Whether it’s using a mirror in my putting routine or going through my shot process. Quite often it’s these details that help, rather than obsessing over big swing changes or worrying if things are good enough.
At what point did you realise that you could win?
From the first round I thought that my game felt good enough to contend. Then during the second round I started to make a few more birdies and as the week went on I didn’t feel like anything was going to let me down.
My expectations had never gone in the previous few weeks, but at that point I was back to feeling the way that I normally do at tournaments. I knew that I was capable of winning and it was the first time I felt back in control again, which was really cool.
How did you celebrate your win?
I went out with a few friends but to be honest I was exhausted, I could have quite happily gone to bed as soon as I left the course. I think the emotion of it all was quite draining. You know what it is going on but you are just trying very hard to treat it like a normal tournament.
Your dad was caddying for you wasn’t he?
Yes and that helped me relax and feel more like myself, perhaps more than I realised it would.
My dad knows my golf better than anyone really and he has experienced a lot of the highs and lows with me. It was a great moment to share with him.
He’s director of the Staysure Tour, so the fact that he had time to show up in Australia at all is pretty incredible. He doesn’t usually caddie for me.
But after that performance I’ve sort of suggested that maybe he doesn’t need to show up at quite as many senior events and he could make a few more appearances for me instead!
My mum is a very good golfer as well, so it’s all pretty competitive in our family. My sister and I are very close as well.
When you are by yourself and working so hard it can feel like a long road sometimes, wondering if it is going to be worth it or not. So I’m kind of lucky to have all those people by my side.
Which other tournaments are you looking forward to?
Winning in Australia also gets me into the British Open and the Evian. It’s really cool to know that I don’t have to qualify for them and I can just look forward to being able to test myself against the best players in the world. That will be pretty exciting.
Apart from your win, what else has been the highlight of the past year?
Definitely winning the Order Of Merit on the LET Access. It reminded me that consistency is just as important as anything else. Because I spent a lot of last year feeling frustrated that I didn’t win more tournaments.
Qualifying for the US Open was something else that I will always remember. Getting a taste of the big time so early on in my professional career was pretty cool.
Do you think there’s more hunger on the Access Tour?
Playing on the Access Tour definitely helped drive me because no matter how well you do on a tour like that it is never going to be enough. Whether that is financially or career wise are always trying to push up to another level.
Maybe on some of the bigger tours you can coast along a bit more because it is more secure. Having said that in the women’s game it is difficult to coast at any level. But you can get quite settled with making cuts and stuff, for me golf has always been about more than just being comfortable.
What are your goals for this year?
One thing that worked for me last year was just focusing on trying to improve rather than having results-based goals. You need to realise that each event isn’t life or death, it’s a long process.
I also have status on the Symetra Tour this year and that kind of seems like the obvious pathway to getting a LPGA card.
What is it about golf that makes it so special?
I think golf is just addictive. There’s always something that you can get better at and I love that. There’s never an end to it so you have to take all the ups and downs just as you would with other stuff in life.
You see a lot of people wondering through school or life without any real clarity. So having something to dedicate my time to helped me to mature I think.
All of the things that you have to sacrifice for golf are worth it for what you get out of it. I genuinely enjoy practising and it never feels like work.