For this edition of Interview, Euronews spoke to professional golfer Amy Boulden at the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic - and she talked to us about where her career all began, how she has built resilience, and how her industry is changing.
The transition to professional golf
Firstly, Amy shared with us how she got into golf and how she made the transition to becoming a professional in such a competitive game.
“I first represented Wales, where I'm from, when I was age 13. When I first got into golf I was about six years old. I come from a golfing background - my dad was the club pro at my golf club. My sister used to be the club pro at Abu Dhabi National Golf Club over here. So yeah, definitely had no choice but to play golf when I was younger. And I love it. I mean, I'm very fortunate that I get to travel the world playing golf as a career.
“I found actually the transition quite easy, to be honest. I felt like I'd done everything I wanted to do in the amateur game and then went to Q school, actually didn't get my full card, but ended up getting a couple of invites and played well in them invite's… made the most of the opportunity and kind of got my card from there. And it's crazy to think that this is now coming up to the end of my sixth season on tour, which is crazy,” she said.
Building resilience and bouncing back
Amy also talked about her career dip in 2019 and how she bounced back to win her first Swiss Ladies Open.
“So I decided to play over in America last year. I went over and played on the Symetra Tour and just wanted a bit more experience of playing over in the States, to be honest. And because of that, I ended up losing my tour card on the Ladies European tour. So I had to go back to Q school, which was tough actually at the start of this year. Ended up actually coming through that and winning it and getting my tour status back and put it in a lot of hard work over the lockdown in the UK. And luckily, my boyfriend's my coach, which helps,” she said.
How the golf industry is changing
Amy then discussed with us what it is like to be a professional female golfer in what is traditionally a male dominated sport.
“I think growing up I was the only really female junior golfer at my golf club except for my two sisters. So you just get used to kind of growing up with the boys. And I think that was what helped me, to be honest. It kind of really brought my game on probably a lot quicker because the guys were always so much better. They always hit it further than me. So I was trying to keep up with them. I do actually think it's improving,” she added.
Amy said she also believes the sport is addressing gender equality.
“You have these big named golf clubs now that used to not let women even play the golf course or even allowed in the clubhouse. And you can see them changing their rules. You even see things like dress codes and everything changing for women as well, kind of keeping up with the time. So I definitely think there's been a big improvement over the last couple of years,” she said.
Saudi Arabia has also started its first professional golf tournament for women and she will be going out there to play again soon.
“It's just such an exciting time for them. I'm an ambassador for Golf Saudi, so I'm very proud to represent them next for the next couple of weeks. And I've been over there a number of times now and I always enjoy my time. Golf is actually booming over there. The golf courses are amazing so I’m excited for the girls to experience the golf courses there. I think they’re going to love it.”
Golf in Dubai
The Moonlight Classic competition she’s currently taking part in takes place at night, which Amy said is a very different experience.
“It's very different. I had my first experience last year and playing in this event and the transition of when you start in the light to then when it's kind of going dark and the floodlights are coming on, that's probably the hardest part. But I think it's going to be exciting. I actually played a practice round yesterday evening in the dark and it takes a bit of getting used to it. But I just think it's such a fun concept. It gets people talking about an event that's a little bit different to no one else is doing this,” she explained.
“I think it helps that the weather's so good here. Definitely, that is a big part of it. The condition of all the golf courses are always amazing here as well. I actually tend to come here wintertime when in the UK you can't play or practice. I love coming out to the Middle East and being able to work on my game. I think it's the perfect place to come. And as soon as Christmas is over, I'll be back on a plane over here, I'm sure. My sister was here a number of years and so I think I’ve been coming here from around the ages of 15 or 16,” she added.
The impact of Covid on the sport
The sporting world has been hugely impacted by the health crisis with most international events postponed and cancelled as a result. Amy said for her and playing golf, it was tough when the first lockdown in the UK happened in March.
“I think at the start of lockdown when the UK first went into lockdown, it was pretty tough. Obviously, you weren't able to get out on the course, but I really think that everybody kind of made the most of it. I saw that it was really hard to get like a putting green that you could, like, roll out on your carpet or a net - everyone was buying them to put in their gardens. And I really think it made everybody realise how much they missed the game of golf. And as soon as lockdown was lifted, I mean, my golf course, I couldn't get a tee time on. It was so busy. And I think that's been a real positive, if anything, to come out of this situation.
“I know a lot of people were very anxious to kind of get back out travelling. Obviously, we travel all over and in contact with people, but every tournament we've played has been really well organised, doing the best they can to keep us safe, always socially distancing and always wearing masks. We're kind of in a bubble. So we're only in contact with each other. We get tested every week before we play. So we all know that we're all in safe hands,” she added.
Advice for aspiring golfers
Amy is certainly having an incredible career and she had plenty of encouraging words for those who may want to follow in her footsteps.
“I mean, if you're watching this interview, I'm here in the sunshine in Dubai, so I don't think I probably need to say too much. But we are very lucky that we get to travel the world and we come to some amazing places. We get looked after very well. And I remember growing up and my dad sending me out to the chipping area in the freezing cold hailstone. And I mean, it is all worth all the practice and hard work you put into it. When you eventually get on tour we have a great time and it's very enjoyable,” she said.