In the first of Scottish Golf’s exclusive #WhyIGolf series, BBC Sport golf presenter Eilidh Barbour discusses her journey from pitch-and-putt to Augusta National.
Can you remember the first time you played golf, what inspired you, where was it and how did you enjoy it?
I really can’t. When we were kids we used to play a little on holidays as a family – pitch-and-putts or small par 3 courses. I also grew up very close to the golf course in Dunkeld so kind of dabbled in it a bit when my mum took the game up but I really haven’t taken it seriously until the last couple of years.
The enjoyment my mum gets from it, though, has been a big inspiration in focusing on it more seriously and it’s become a regular way for us to spend time together. I think my temperament is more suited to it now I’m a bit older too.
— Scottish Golf (@ScottishGolf) August 1, 2018
What is it about golf that you enjoy so much?
I love the challenge of it. It’s so difficult, by far the hardest sport I’ve tried, and it can be pretty frustrating but when you get it right, that buzz is special. I love the sociable side of it and I’ve met some great people through golf. It’s a game that can be played with all levels, abilities, male or female and all ages together which is pretty unique.
I also enjoy playing myself, challenging myself against the course, trying new things – improving your game is a never-ending challenge. Because it’s so challenging as well, you have to focus on it 100% so the phone goes off, the mind is cleared from all its day-to-day rubbish so it has mental benefits as well as the usual physical benefits from exercise.
If I can just stay here all day please….! Glorious day @GullaneGolfClub. Highlights of day 3 @ScottishOpen on BBC? at 9pm, BBC2 at 11.45pm and on iPlayer all week @BBCSport #golfcoast #beautifulscotland pic.twitter.com/ZSpmpQeOns
— Eilidh Barbour (@EilidhBarbour) July 14, 2018
At what point did you think golf could become part of your professional career?
Golf has always been a passion of mine long before I started playing it properly. My brother and I were taken to The Open and various other tournaments in Scotland by our parents, I was a volunteer at some of the men’s and women’s professional events when I became a teenager and it’s a sport I’ve always enjoyed watching.
I first became involved in it through my broadcasting work around seven years ago when I secured a job at IMG working on their magazine show, Golfing World.
The position involved a lot of travel to various tours, covering events and providing interviews and behind-the-scenes pieces. It was a great insight into the life of a professional golfer. That was my last full-time position, choosing to leave London and go down the freelance route, and I’m thrilled I’ve been able to find a way back into the sport.
I’ve walked it many times but so special to finally play @TheHomeofGolf. Beautiful day on the Old Course (apart from the bunkers?) Huge thanks @VisitScotGolf @AlanGrantGolf for giving me the chance to tick another one off the bucket list! pic.twitter.com/lNRUsUCboc
— Eilidh Barbour (@EilidhBarbour) July 30, 2018
What’s been your favourite experience covering golf?
Presenting live coverage from The Masters is my career highlight in any sport. Augusta National is such a special place and The Masters is one of my favourite annual sporting events. It’s the only live golf currently on the BBC so, added to the mind blowing experience of just being there, there’s the adrenalin and buzz of live TV. It’s a really special week.
I also absolutely loved my first Ryder Cup experience walking the fairways doing commentary for BBC 5 Live. The noise at Hazeltine, particularly on that first tee, was incredible – unlike anything I’ve heard in golf before. It’s amazing as well being inside the ropes and almost in that cauldron of competition between the players whilst feeling the intensity of the crowd. I can’t wait to see the return in Paris.
What is your ultimate golfing ambition?
Consistency! At the moment I’m striving for that and, hopefully, the handicap cut and everything else will follow.
What a fantastic @TheOpen that was! And a thoroughly deserving champion. Congratulations @F_Molinari. I hope your phone is exploding with well wishes! Huge thanks @PaulLawriegolf for being a fabulous guest. Roll on Portrush ?? pic.twitter.com/QL77aoODH3
— Eilidh Barbour (@EilidhBarbour) July 22, 2018
What would you say to girls who have maybe not played golf before to encourage them to take it up?
The biggest regret I have with sport is that I didn’t properly take up golf earlier. It’s such a hard game to learn and learning becomes so much more difficult when you’re older. The opportunities to play, meet people and travel are growing for girls all the time and I wish I’d realised those opportunities when I was younger.
There’s also a huge misconception that everyone who plays on a golf course is a great player – believe me, it’s not true. So don’t be scared about trying it out, everyone started at exactly the same level and had exactly the same struggles. But when you can get over those struggles and see your game improve, you’ll be so glad you stuck with it. Trust me.
Women & Girls Golf Week is a national awareness campaign, running across Great Britain and Ireland with the four home unions (Monday 30 July and Sunday 5 August), which aims to unite the golf industry in celebrating the successes and challenging the misconceptions and stigmas associated with women and girls in golf.
Throughout the online campaign, each day presents a different theme, where stories will be told of women and girls who are involved in the sport with the aim of creating noise across social media, with women and girl golfers everywhere invited to join the conversation using the #WhyIGolf.
Share Your Story With Us – Join the Conversation #WhyIGolf