NCG’s equipment editor and scratch golfer Hannah Holden is playing on the elite amateur circuit this year. In this blog she shares tales of her travels

It’s 8am on a Sunday in April and I’m on a driving range ahead of the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open at Royal Troon wearing shorts and T-shirt. Something about this doesn’t feel quite right. (The weather, I mean, not daft dress codes.)

Let’s get the most important factor of this tournament out in the open. No, not that I, along with more than 100 other female amateurs are about to compete on an Open Championship venue, but the fact there is Nando’s on the line. My boyfriend Nick Marsh, a Challenge Tour superstar (his words, not mine), has promised me dinner at my favourite chicken chain if I make it through all 18 holes without finding the sand.

Oh he’s on.

I do a quick Google and find there are 98 bunkers at Troon – that’s more than five a hole!


I want this bet to get past the first hole, so I pull out my 3-wood to take the traps on the first fairway out of play all together.

It’s a spectacular course, but one where a clever strategy is required. Ending up even slightly offline will see your ball swallowed by sand.

By the time I reach the par-3 8th, the Postage Stamp to you and me, I’m 4-over. It’s 119 yards into the wind and a sweet 9-iron to 20 feet leaves me feeling relieved strolling off the tee box.

My partner doesn’t have the same good fortune and we find her ball plugged under the back lip of the left greenside trap, virtually unplayable. I do that thing that all golfers do where we sympathise out loud but also secretly celebrate not having to take on the upcoming shot they face. Don’t judge me. You’ve all done it. (And my Nando’s is still on…)

But disaster strikes at 16. My approach to the par-5 catches the crosswind and sails away to the right and lands in a sandy grave. Now I’m now in the worst kind of debt – Nando’s debt.

Nick isn’t here – he’s in Africa for three weeks of warm weather practice – but if he was I imagine he’d be putting on a sympathetic face while on the inside he’d be choosing how spicy he’s going to have his wings.

But I can’t think about sweet, sweet Peri-Peri sauce, because I now face a 15-yard bunker shot to save par.

I make it and finish 6-over-par for the tournament. I’d lost the bet but it didn’t matter. I’d stuck to my strategy of avoiding the traps, using free food as a motivation. Until 16 I hadn’t come close to finding one. I will certainly be trying this tactic again – even if it does end up costing me a fortune.

I hang around to watch the final groups finish as Pia Babnik taps in a three footer, with the flag in, for a final-round 66 to seal the championship.

At just 15 years old this is an incredible win and she looks set to secure her place on Team Europe for the Junior Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September. After a steady week I finish tied 27th, which I’m happy with given it’s for my first national tournament in nearly two years.

Stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated with my tales from the amateur circuit including my thoughts on everything from dress codes, slow play, and the weird and wonderful people I meet out there. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me.