Encouraging more women and girls into golf is a key target for Nairn Dunbar, with honorary member and Ladies European Tour professional Kelsey MacDonald a great ambassador for the club.
Looking back and forward, we caught up with the 30-year-old from Nairn, a former Scottish Women’s champion, on starting out in golf over the ‘Dunbar’ links and her sustained passion for our award-winning course.
Kelsey, explain your background at Nairn Dunbar. At what age did you join the club and why?
KM: I lived only a pitch away from Nairn Dunbar’s 18th green. I joined when I was eight-years-old. My Dad plays and he took my twin brother, Craig, and I out in the evenings, learning the rules and the game.
What are your best memories as a junior?
KM: Junior Team events were great fun. Playing nearby clubs got the competitive edge in us going. We also enjoyed the social scene in the junior room, playing the pool table along with the usual crisps and 10p juice (I’m sure the price has changed now!). Playing Nairn Dunbar most days after school and during school holidays, I look back now and realise how fortunate we were to have such an amazing course on our doorstep.
How delighted are you to be an honorary member?
KM: It’s such an honour to be recognised by the club, the members who have all supported me during my career and it means a lot.
Do you know Russell Knox well? It’s impressive that the club has helped develop two Tour professionals.
KM: Russell and I were Juniors at the same time, so I played a lot of junior competitions with him and we were also teammates in the Nairn Dunbar Junior Team.
As a club, we were encouraged to play and had great support from the members, who were always positively keeping us in line. We had a thriving, strong and talented junior membership at Nairn Dunbar and the professional was David Torrance, who is recognised as one of the top coaches in Scotland. I believe all of the above contributed in some way to Russell and I choosing our career paths.
Do you see yourself as an ambassador for the club? We’ve seen you helping young girls at the club previously for coaching.
KM: Nairn Dunbar is and always will be my home course and I’m proud to represent it. Honestly, wherever I am in the world, someone will know someone from Nairn so, yes, I consider myself an ambassador. After enjoying my junior years, I’m more than happy to encourage any junior to pick up a club and enjoy it.
What are your favourite holes on the course?
KM: My favourite holes are the par-3 8th and the finishing stretch of the 16th, 17th and 18th.
How often do you play at Nairn Dunbar now?
KM: When I’m home, I always manage to get a game in. I’m truly at home there.
What have you made of the course improvements at the club in recent years?
KM: Richard Johnstone (Course Manager) is making extensive changes, bringing back the natural linksy course and any time I’m back home I’ve enjoyed the developing course. I’m always impressed with the standard of the course. There have been lots of amazing changes, but I especially love what they have done with the 11th hole which was one of the first changes made.
Derek Roy was head greenkeeper before Richard and he also did an excellent job with the course. Richard has added to what was already a fantastic layour and conditioned course.
How excited are you for the club’s future?
KM: It’s challenging times for all golf clubs at the moment. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic more people took up golf at Nairn Dunbar. The changes being made can only enhance its reputation and it’s up to everyone concerned to keep them as members!
Thanks Kelsey, and good luck for the new Ladies European Tour season!