Sammie Giles: Steve Carroll talks to England’s Amateur champion
There’s a fair chance Paul and Carol Giles have finally forgiven daughter Sammie for turning her back on table tennis.
The family have the sport rooted to their core – aunties and uncles among those wielding bats and hitting smashes. “For me to branch out was bit of a shock at the time,” laughs the 21-year-old of her decision to turn to golf around a decade ago.
“They are getting that there might be a bit more of a future in golf.” It’s a future that looks exceptionally bright. When Cornwall-based Giles won the English Women’s Amateur at West Lancashire she achieved something no one has managed before.
Her one-shot win over Elizabeth Prior completed the full set of national titles – a triple crown of which she is rightly proud. It followed the English strokeplay last year at St Annes Old Links and the midamateur at Bath in 2014. “It is a really big deal to win the closed amateur championship,” Giles added. “I’d won the two previous but they were open.
“To be the English Amateur champion is very special and now I’ve got the full set. There are some really fantastic names on the trophy, some of whom have gone onto great things. When you see all the girls on it you hope it is quite promising for the future.”
Giles, who got her first handicap at St Mellion, dug in and made her move during a tough stretch of holes just after the turn in the final round. She said: “I just played quite steadily and didn’t really do anything special. “I went round in level, one over, level and two under. I was never really hitting a 65 or anything like that.
“But I was also never going to shoot worse than one over. The final day was so windy. It caused a few of the girls to struggle. “It was a really difficult wind – not straight up or down but across from the right-hand side. “It was hard to work out if it was helping or hindering and I made a few clubbing errors. “I didn’t think I wasn’t going to get up and down in the last round and I thought ‘If I’m struggling with clubs everyone else must be’.”
The victory was a welcome tonic following the disappointment of missing out on the England team that beat Spain and won European Team Championship gold at Oddur, in Iceland. She had been part of the young side that belied formidable odds and played so spectacularly at the Home Internationals last season and had based her year around getting on the plane.
But dealing with setbacks is part and parcel of playing elite golf, and Giles has used the blow to spur her on. She explained: “It’s a small team and I found out before the British Amateur at Dundonald and still had a pretty good week there. You have to use it as a motivator.
“They aren’t doing it to test you, they are doing it to get the team that will perform the best. They made the right decision.“It spurs you on to compete and win more championships so that, next time round, you deserve the spot.” That next ‘spot’ comes in September with the World Amateur Team Championship, in Mexico, and Giles is hoping that this time she will get the call.
Also calling is the lure of the professional game but it is not a step she is prepared to take at this point. “It’s something I want to do in the future but I am in the England squad and I am really enjoying that,” she added. “It’s a great experience and I am not quite ready to give it all up.” While some may be satisfied with their trophy haul, Giles is hungry for more success.“Everyone gets into sport because they, eventually, want to win something. “It becomes a bit addictive. You win one and then you want to keep on winning.”