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The 19th Hole Interview: Gemma Dryburgh

Scotland will have a new face on the Ladies European Tour scene this year, one with ambitions to fulfil, namely Aberdeen native Gemma Dryburgh.

The 22-year-old joined Nairn’s Kelsey MacDonald in securing top-10 cards at the end-of-season Qualifying School in Morocco to quickly secure full LET playing rights.

Dryburgh, who only recently turned professional after graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans in May, was impressive in handling the heat in Marrakech. Now the former Curtis Cup player is looking forward to joining Pamela Pretswell, Kylie Walker, Sally Watson, Carly Booth and Vikki Laing as Scots regulars on the circuit this season. We caught up with her at the 19th Hole…

Gemma, how pleased are you to have secured a LET card at the first attempt?

GD: “I’m very pleased, especially on my first attempt. It feels great to be on a main tour six months after graduating from University. This is what I have been working towards ever since I decided to do college golf in the US.”

Gemma in her amateur days with the SLGA

Having missed out on a LPGA Tour card, it must have been a great relief?

GD: “Yes, it was. I was really happy with my overall performance in the LPGA Q School. It was really tough, but I gained so much experience from it. To follow the disappointment of the LPGA final stage with a seventh-place finish in Morocco was such a thrill.”

You must have been pleased to handle the pressure over the five rounds?

GD: “I was very pleased with how I handled it. There is no doubt that I gained so much confidence from doing the LPGA Q School. Just the experience of getting through Stage 1, Stage 2 and just missing out in Stage 3 gave me a lot of confidence to take forward to the LET final qualifier. The confidence I brought to Morocco really helped me keep calm during all five rounds.”

What are your ambitions now going forward?

GD: “One of my main goals is to win a tournament in 2016, and also to be Rookie of the Year.”

What Scots golfers have inspired you to succeed?

GD: “Catriona Mathew has been a major inspiration to me. She has given me great advice over the past year. I also love to watch her play, she keeps things very simple. She is also a fierce competitor, which I really admire.”

Is the Solheim Cup in 2019 at Gleneagles on your radar?

GD:  “Yes, it definitely is! When I heard that the 2019 Solheim Cup would be played at Gleneagles, I said to myself: ‘You’ve got to be there in that team.’ It would be amazing to play a Solheim Cup anywhere, but it would be extra special to play for Europe on Scottish soil.”

Explain your golf background and progression from a youth.

Dryburgh relishing exciting year ahead

GD: “I started hitting golf balls when I was about four years old. I used to go to the range with my Dad. I would also sometimes play when we went on holiday. I got my first handicap of 36 when I was 12 years old.

“I loved to play a lot of other sports as well, especially football. But eventually when I reached the age of 15 I decided to stop playing football and concentrate on my golf. That is when I moved to Bradenton, Florida to attend David Leadbetter’s Academy. After two-and-a-half years at the Academy, I went to Tulane University.”

How much have you benefitted from playing for Scotland and working with the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA) in your amateur days?

GD: “Playing for Scotland while I was an amateur was an amazing experience. I got so many opportunities to play in top amateur tournaments around the world.

“Some notable ones I was lucky enough to play in were the World Amateur Championship in Japan, the Spirit International in Texas, and two South American Amateurs in Colombia and Peru. Playing in two European Team Championships were also major highlights. Without the help of the SLGA, I would not have gained all of that international experience.”

How much did college golf in the US help you?

GD: “Playing college golf for Tulane University was the best decision I ever made. I had so much fun playing in a team environment, and I learnt so much along the way. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing coaches while I was there, who helped me improve my game every year. Each season we were competing against some of the best amateurs in the world so that really helped to raise my game.”

What would be your advice for young Scots girls keen on getting into golf?

GD: “My advice would be to get out on the course and try to play in as many tournaments as you can. Playing tournaments and competing is the best part about golf. You will never know if you really love the game if you are just hitting balls on the range all of the time. Get out there and play with your friends, even if it isn’t a tournament. Compete against each other, that is always the best way to learn, and the fastest.”