NICHOLA HAMILTON’S decision seven years ago to encourage mum Irene to take up golf has certainly paid off with the two of them heading to Slaley Hall for the grand finals of the Daily Mail Foursomes which start today.
The mother and daughter duo from Glasgow club Whitecraigs never imagined they would qualify for the showdown of the world’s largest amateur golf competition.
The excited Scottish pair have battled through seven marathon knock-out rounds and a thrilled Nichola, 33, said: ‘‘We’re quite shocked. It is some miracle we’ve done it. Every round we assumed that would be the one we would go out, but we kept moving forward.
‘It is very special to do it together. When you’re playing with your mum you feel less pressure. If I play a bad shot I know she is not going to get cross with me and it eases the nerves.
‘We’ve managed to pull together and lean on each other when it is quite tight. Doing this with my mum is a nice experience and probably brings out the best in my golf.’
Both stress this is their biggest achievement as just 16 women’s and men’s teams have made it to the showpiece at the celebrated Northumberland course from an initial entry of more than 3,000 pairs from across England, Scotland and Wales.
The pairs will play the round of 16 and quarter-finals today, then the semi-finals and finals tomorrow on the 7,000-yard, par-72 championship Hunting course.
Nichola adds: ‘We realise we’re going to play more golf in those days than we have ever played before. We’re going to try and do our best. It’s a great experience regardless of what happens.’
Sisters Rachel and Lauren Birch from Bloxwich are another family duo dreaming of capturing one of the biggest trophies in amateur golf this week.
Economics student Rachel, 21, said: ‘This is one of the biggest things we have achieved together and will be doing everything to get to the final. We would definitely like to win it.’
The sisters, who have been in blistering form in the run up to the finals, took up the sport when their dad Simon took them to the driving range 13 years ago and they have been hooked ever since.
Simon will be in Hexham supporting them, but Rachel revealed they will not be asking him for advice. Joking she said: I don’t think we could deal with him as a caddie. If he was we would probably end up telling him: ‘No dad, we’re better than you.’’
This has been a chance for the siblings to team up, as they often compete against one another. Most recently Lauren, 24, beat her sister in the club championship.
‘It was very close,’ laughed Rachel. ‘It’s great we can do this as a team.’
In the men’s competition Will Bremner, a former Angus county champion who plays off plus three, has just become Edzell clubs champion for the seventh time and would love to keep the winning streak going with his clubmate Mark Haggerty.
He said: ‘Foursomes is a hard format. You’ve just got the one ball in play so any mistakes really can cost you holes. It’s a good fun format though.
‘We’ve said to ourselves we’re just going to go and enjoy it. Getting to the finals is enough of an achievement, anything else is a bonus, but yeah you’re still trying to win it at the end of the day.’
The tournament had managed to play out the first round last year before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, forcing a 12-month suspension and eventually causing the cancellation of the 2021 event to allow the 2020 tournament to be completed.
Jonny Mould, Slaley Hall’s head of golf, said: “We are incredibly excited to host the finals. In the amateur golf world, there is no competition more prestigious. By the time they get here they are already winners.’
Prestwick St Nicholas