At last a few spare moments to put finger to key board to record my thoughts on last week. Once again the Midlothian County Team was superb. The support the girls offered to one another, the concentration they gave to each and every match, the commitment they showed to myself, Mary and, selector, Linda, and their excellent golf were second to none. It was an honour and a privilege to be involved with them yet again. I would love nothing better than to take the credit for winning the East Division Inter-County Matches but I must pass that back to the fantastic team we had.
Monday morning saw them take on Fife. It was a nightmare trying to work out who to play, who to rest, what pairings to go for and what order to play them in but with that finally decided, the chosen players were all well and truly up for their matches and eager to get going. We reached lunchtime 2-1 up but at the expense of one of our players. Claire MacDonald had suffered an injury during the morning round and could not play in the afternoon. After a visit to the physio, it was clear that she would have to pull out of playing in any other match. Rather than working against us, this ralied the girls together even more. Never a moan nor a groan was heard and the girls were even more determined to play well and win. We knew we couldn’t ease up in the afternoon and would need everyone to play at their best. The 6 girls were sent out in the knowledge that they needed 3 points to record their first win. Junior Rookie, Gabrielle Macdonald, had an exceedingly tough introduction to County golf and played ex-Scotland International, Elaine Moffat. She had a fabulous game, taking Elaine to the 17th before losing 2&1. But it was celebrations all around when we drew the singles and, therefore, won the tie by 1 game point.
Monday night and we decided on the pairings for Tuesday’s game against Stirling and Clackmannan; we’d play both rookies, Gabrielle and Kate McIntosh, together at no. 2. With Claire unable to play, we’d play Louise Fraser with Rachael Watton and we’d stick with Karen Marshall and Wendy Nicholson but move them to no. 3. Gabrielle and Kate had another tough game. They again played very well but went down 5&3. The other 2 pairings won and, once again, we took the lunchtime lead. The afternon brought the same 6 girls as we had played on Monday but in a slightly different order. The matches were tight. The nerves were jangling. The team was toying with us. But, eventually, they came through and won 4 games and halved one, to win overall.
And so to the final day. We were the only unbeaten team but were to play East Lothian who had lost both of their first two matches. They would be determined to win. We had to keep the Midlothian girls motivated. Again, we changed our middle pairing and opted for Kirsten Blackwood and Gabrielle. The idea was to be leading by 3-0 at lunchtime and give Kate her first taste of County singles in the afternoon. The team was warned not to be complacent and again, they went out all guns blazing. It was great to see as they brought in the lunchtime score we had been looking for. We only needed 2 points in the afternoon to be certain of victory and a place in the County finals. The team was hyper as we saw the 6 girls off the first tee. Wendy had offered to sit out the singles and, instead, took on caddying duties for Kate and, boy, did that work a treat! She was 3 up on the 6th tee, 4 up after 8, 5 up on the 10th, 6 up on the 12th and, after a birdie at the 13th, brought home the first of the afternoon points 6&5. That victory was followed very quickly by Kirsten winning 5&4. The match was ours, we were on our way to County Finals but no sooner had that sunk in than Louise recorded a 5&4 victory and Gabrielle a 2&1 victory. All that remained was the 2 team members, unbeaten all week having played in all of the matches. They were both looking for a 6 out of 6 final total. First was Rachael, up against Emma Fairnie. It had been a exceedingly tight game with never more than 1 hole in it. They reached the 18th all square. Both girls hit great drives and approaches to the green. Emma putted first and just missed the hole. Rachael was left with a 20 footer for a birdie 3 and the match. The ball was struck but stopped, agonisingly, dead on line but an inch short of the hole. The game was halved. Karen was then the only Mildothian player left on the course, playing youngster Clara Young. Another tight battle brought the two girls to the 18th all square. Again, two great drives and approach shots and the girls were on the green. Clara putted first and left her ball 5 ft short. Karen’s putt just missed the cup and no more but gave her the 4. Clara stepped up to her 5 ffoter and calmly, with nerves of steel, knocked it in for a 4 anda halved game. Despite their disppointment at only making it 5.5 rather than 6 points out of 6, the girls joined in the celebrations.
It really was the most excellent display of golf. Our thanks go to the girls for playing with such passion. My thanks also go to Mary, Linda, Margaret and Agnes for all their support. The team and all of our thanks go to the small, merry band of supporters who ventured out to cheer on Midlothian. There were two disappointments during the whole 3 days. The first was Claire’s injury, which could not be helped, but the second was that not more members came out to watch and offer their support to the girls. We had thought and hoped that Royal Musselburgh was near enough to home soil to entice a few more spectators but this did not prove to be the case. Never the less, YOUR team have made it to County Finals and will be there in September. We can’t believe that many of you will venture to Bothwell Castle between the 17th and 19th September, when Royal Musselburgh did not attract you, but wouldn’t it be nice to be proved wrong!