WPGA triumph earns Heather MacRae a priceless golfing goal in her cancer battle
Scotland’s Heather MacRae earned herself a golfing goal to help hasten her recovery from cervical cancer surgery by winning the Women’s PGA Championship for a second time.
Victory in the Titleist and FootJoy-sponsored tournament at Trentham guaranteed her a place in the team that will represent Great Britain and Ireland in the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup.
The match will be staged in Austin, Texas, in the last week of October, four-and-a-half months after the 35-year-old Scot undergoes an operation to banish the cancer that was diagnosed in March.
The operation was scheduled for June 14 and MacRae explained: “The recovery time from the surgery is eight weeks so the WPGA Cup in October is something to aim for.
“June and July are not going to be great but at least I have something to look forward to.”
The surgery had been rescheduled and the original date would have prevented MacRae from playing at Trentham and booking her place in the WPGA Cup team.
“I thought I would have to rely on a captain’s pick to make the team,” said MacRae, who is attached to Stirling Golf Club and previously won the Women’s PGA Championship in 2016.
“But when I realised I would be able to play at Trentham I made it my goal to qualify without needing a pick.”
With four of the five places in the Women’s PGA Cup team based on performances in this and last year’s tournaments at Trentham, MacRae was well-placed to qualify having finished second 12 months ago.
That was a result of losing a play-off to Keely Chiericato and MacRae’s disappointment at the time was tangible. Disappointments these days are relative, however.
“I lost two play-offs within days of one another last year, and it was difficult,” she recalled.
“But the last few months have put everything in perspective. I’m still determined, want to hit good shots and get frustrated when I don’t.
“But I don’t feel nervous playing golf after waiting for the results of medical tests and things like that. It’s important because I want to do it well and it means a lot. But it does change your outlook.
“I’ve also been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had from so many people. It has come from friends and family, the golfing world and people I’ve never met before. It’s helped me a lot and kept me as strong as I have been.”
Understandably, that strength wavered as she delivered a moving winner’s acceptance speech at Trentham. Not so on the golf course, especially on the last nine holes of the 36.
Having reached the half way point on one-under-par, she trailed Wrotham Heath Golf Club’s Hayleigh Tottman by two shots.
Tottman maintained that advantage for the first half of the final round but her lack of opportunities to play or practise since becoming a mother almost a year ago and the physical effort of playing 36-holes in a day took its toll on the back nine.
Consequently her score slipped from three-under to one-over and MacRae took full advantage.
Unfazed by a double bogey at the par-four ninth, a birdie at the par-five 14thand no further wobbles saw her post a two-under-par total of 144 for the 36-holes to finish two shots clear of Ali Gray and Suzanne Dickens and claim the £1,000 first prize.
All of which completed a successful two days for MacRae and her fellow PGA Professional, friend, fourball partner, caddy at Trentham and designated driver to and from Scotland, Craig Lee.
The pair arrived at Trentham having 24 hours earlier qualified for the final of the golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship and MacRae added: “I like to have goals and the tournament is at the end of August, so that’s something else to look forward to.”
MacRae will be captained in the WPGA Cup team by Tracey Loveys and line-up alongside Hazel Kavanagh, Gray and Dickens, who won a play-off with Maria Tully to claim the last of the four places determined by points accumulated in the 2018 and 2019 WPGA Championships. Tully’s disappointment lasted no more than a weekend, however, as she earned the captain’s pick.
Highly respected international performance coach Ian Peek has attained The PGA’s highest honour after earning the status of Master Professional.
Peek has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game of golf having played full-time on the Asian, South American and European Challenge Tours before founding the Impact Golf Academy in Germany.
The 50-year-old has worked with numerous golf federations around the world as a consultant for the R&A and he is also a qualified PGA tournament referee.
Peek has presented his coaching philosophies as a conference speaker all across Europe and further afield, including at the PGA Members’ International Conference in Thailand and the recent European Members’ Education and Networking Day in Germany where he is based at Golf-Club Sigmaringen.
“This is without doubt the highlight of my professional career so far,” said Peek. “To belong to a group of PGA Professionals which includes the likes of David Leadbetter, Martin Hall and Peter Cowen is pretty humbling.”
Peek has always been keen to expand his personal development. His 2016 Master’s Degree Dissertation focused on the experiences of elite amateurs following their transition to professional golf. As a PhD student, Peek’s research focused on the varying influences behind successful European Tour players and how those influences contributed to them ‘making it’ on the Tour.
Peek added: “In my opinion we cannot be truly successful as a coach or mentor unless we are actively involved in our own personal development. The point of learning as a coach is to be able to pass that learning on to others.”
David Clare (Gloria Hotel & Golf Resort) has been awarded the PGA Advanced Fellow status.
The PGA has extended its partnership with Golfplan, the specialist golf insurers, until 2022.
The two organisations have worked together in different capacities since 1996 and offer an attractive commission incentive to PGA Professionals.
Golfplan, founded by Ron Channon in 1984, are experts in golf-related insurance products with the Oxfordshire-based company covering more than £60 million worth of golfing equipment on behalf of thousands of golfers.
They seek to address the commonly held view that all golf insurance is the same - a misunderstanding that can cost the typical golfer thousands of pounds. Through assisting the customer to understand the finer details of different policies, Golfplan ensure golfers are fully covered and correctly matched to the right product.
In 2016, Golfplan came under the ownership of A-Plan, one of the UK’s leading insurance brokers that offers a comprehensive range of insurance products to consumers and businesses.
Adam Marshall, group head of specialist lines at A-Plan, commented: “Golfplan are delighted to have extended the long-term partnership with The PGA.
“Our approach has always been to provide quality products with excellent service to PGA Members and golfers in general, and the extension of this partnership will help promote this further.
“Our Golfplan business employs PGA Professionals and we believe we can make a strong expert connection between insurance and fellow PGA Members.
“Our team would be delighted to help Members out with a free consultation and visit to their golf facility, regarding their golf insurance needs.”
Marshall continued: “The partnership helps support Golfplan with its objective of increasing awareness of its high-quality golf insurance product.
“I’m also very pleased that the new arrangements will allow Golfplan’s parent company, A-Plan Insurance, to promote some of the other products we are able to provide to PGA Members such as commercial insurance, car insurance and insurance products for Assistant Professionals in training at the PGA Academy.”
Liam Greasley, PGA executive director – commercial, added: “The PGA has enjoyed a long relationship with Golfplan and we are delighted to extend one of the Association’s most enduring partnerships for another three years.
“This is a significant relationship for The PGA and we look forward to working with Adam Marshall and his team in building on the historical and valuable friendship between our two businesses.”