The R&A - Working for Golf

Whitehead, 12, savours Watson interview

A talented young English golfer enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime when she rubbed shoulders with legendary Tom Watson at The 147th Open, further fuelling her passion for the sport.

Maggie Whitehead, a 12-year-old girl from Durham, met and interviewed the five-time Open champion in the media centre at Carnoustie last month.

As well as also meeting The R&A Chief Executive, Martin Slumbers, Maggie was interviewed herself on Open Radio in a great thrill for the Close House member.

Love for golf

The chance for Maggie, who represents both Northumberland Ladies and Northumberland Juniors, came about through letters she wrote to Martin explaining her love for the sport, how much she enjoyed playing competitively and updating him on the reduction in her handicap.

Maggie played at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships at Pinehurst in 2016 and competed in the inaugural Girls Under 16 Open Championship at Fulford in April. In York, she finished in a tie for fourth place in the Under-12 section.

When she first wrote to Martin in early April she was playing off a nine handicap, but was cut after she played in the Ladies Open at Silloth on Solway, winning the gross and nett prizes, and her handicap is now five.

Open opportunity

The letters struck a chord with Martin, who invited Maggie and her parents along to The Open, before the opportunity with Watson presented itself.

While at The Open, she met Tom and Martin, before Tom interviewed her in the media centre interview room and vice versa. The legendary American, 68, who lifted the Claret Jug in 1975, 1977 1980, 1982 and 1983, was also delighted to pose for photographs.

“Maggie was overwhelmed when she got to meet Tom Watson at Carnoustie on the final day of The Open Championship,” said Maggie’s father, Andy.

“Maggie loves to watch the ‘Chronicles of a Champion Golfer’ on the TV and has watched the Tom Watson episode many times. To spend so much time with him and chat with him one-to-one was very special indeed.”

With a dedicated Women & Girls’ Week taking place across Great Britain & Ireland this week, supported by all the home nations across online platforms, The R&A will continue to follow Maggie’s fortunes as she makes her way in the sport.