Although my one appearance as in the Curtis Cup was back in 1972, when the matches were played at Western Gailes in Ayrshire, I can remember my experience as if it was yesterday.

Bunty Smith – the legendary Lancashire golfer was our captain, and my team-mates were the outstanding British and Irish players at that time. Two of them, Scotland’s Belle Robertson, who has just celebrated her 80th birthday, and Ireland’s Mary McKenna are two of the most iconic amateur golfers of modern times.

At the time of the matches I was 19 and definitely the baby of the team. By today’s standard, that would be veteran status – four members of this year’s US team are just 17 but, back then, girls didn’t take up golf at a young age.

The Curtis Cup was the biggest competition in women’s golf on this side of the Atlantic in those days, as the Ladies European Tour, or the Women’s Professional Golf Association as it was initially called, wasn’t to come into being for another seven years.3 Oct 1992: Trish Johnson of the European team jumps for joy as team captain Mickey Walker (left) looks on following the putt of Catrin Nilsmark which defeated the USA team during the 1992 Solheim Cup at the Dalmahoy golf course, Edinburgh. The European team won the Cup: 11.5 - 6.5 Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /AllsportEven then, until the first Solheim Cup was played in 1990, the Curtis Cup drew the biggest crowds and would still be the biggest competition in the UK and Ireland.

I was a shy girl, and was both excited and scared when I was told that I’d be playing with Mary McKenna in the first series of foursomes matches.

The crowds turned out in their thousands, and I can remember the 18th green being totally surrounded by 10 people deep when I had to hole a three-footer for us to win the match.

Mary and I also paired up in the second day’s foursomes and had a more comfortable win by 3&2. As the reigning British Amateur champion at the time, I was sent out to face the reigning US Amateur champion in the afternoon singles, who was a diminutive, blond Californian girl called Laura Baugh.

We had a real ding-dong match, which ended in a half. Laura would go on to turn professional the following year and, as one of the first acknowledged ‘glamour girls’of women’s golf, earned lots of money, both on and off the course throughout her career, but she never actually got into the winner’s circle as a professional.SUGAR GROVE, IL - AUGUST 19: Past Solheim Cup team captains (L-R) Patty Sheehan, Pat Bradley, Pia Nilsson, Alice Miller, Joanne Carner, Kathy Whitworth, Dale Reid, Betsy King, Judy Rankin and Mickey Walker pose for a photo at a past Solheim Cup Captain's fan session prior to the start of the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms on August 19, 2009 in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)The most successful member of the American team that year was Hollis Stacey, who would go on to win 18 LPGA Tour events, including four Majors, of which three were US Opens.

At 18 and the youngest member on the American team, Hollis and I became friends and have kept in touch ever since.

The matches were played in a great spirit, although when I first set eyes on the US team in their bright red suits and seemingly super-confident demeanour, I admit to having felt somewhat intimidated.

Once on the course I relaxed and just played golf, although understandably I was nervous on the 1st. Although we went on to narrowly lose the matches by 10-8, it is a week that will live in my memory for ever.

The week after the Americans all stayed on to play in the Women’s British Open which was played at Hunstanton. It was another opportunity to get to know the Americans better and play against some of them.

I managed to win the Championship that week, beating two of the American team in the process, who were coincidentally the two players that I had played in my singles matches the week before, Laura Baugh and Jane Booth.

I made some lasting friends the week of my one and only Curtis Cup appearance, but became part of the group of past players, many of whom I’ve met since and also met up with during the three occasions from 1994 to 1998 when I was the coach of the team.Curtis Cup Mickey WalkerParticipating in the match also directly set up the opportunity for me to go and play in America that summer. Through my friendship with Mary and her friendship with one of the Americans – Barbara McIntyre, Mary and I went to America for three weeks to play in the US Women’s Amateur and the Trans Mississippi Championship and stayed with Barbara in Denver.

We met and stayed with some lovely people, played on some wonderful courses and had an absolutely fantastic trip, which all came about as a result of playing in the Curtis Cup.

Of course times have changed, but the Curtis Cup will always be a special competition and no matter what some of the players in this year’s matches at the Dun Laoghaire go on to achieve, they will all have many great memories.


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