Amy Boulden: It’s worth all the hard work you put into golf

TIt was one of the most successful amateur races in the history of golf in Wales. And in September she got her first win on the European Tour at the Swiss Ladies Open. We went to the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic to meet the professional golfer Amy Boulden.

– Jane Whitherspoon, Euronews: Amy, we just saw you come on your training run, how did you do?

– Amy Boulden: Really good. The preparations have been good. I’ve been here for a week now, preparing my game and preparing for the week. So yeah, I really enjoy here.

– How did you start in golf? You’ve had an incredible amateur career, which I think started when you were 13 years old.

– AB: Yes, I first represented Wales, where I am from, when I was 13 years old. When I started golf I was about six years old. I come from a golf background: my father was the club professional at my golf club. My sister used to be the club’s professional in Abu Dhabi. So yeah, I definitely had no choice but to play golf when I was younger. And I love it. I mean, I am very lucky to be able to travel the world playing golf professionally.

– Euronews: You became a professional at 21. How was that transition?

– AB: The transition seemed pretty easy, to be honest. I felt like I had done everything I wanted to do in the amateur game and then I went to the annual tournaments, I didn’t actually get the full card but I ended up getting a couple of invites and I played well so I made the most of the opportunity and got my card there. And it’s crazy to think this is coming to the end of my sixth season on tour, it’s crazy.

– Euronews: I think in 2019 you had a little performance slump in your career; But you actually have that Welsh stamina – you bounced back and won your first Swiss Women’s Open in September.

– AB: I decided to play in the United States last year. I went and played on the Symetra Tour, I just wanted a little more experience playing in the States, to be honest. And because of that, I ended up losing my card on the European Women’s Tour. So I had to go back to the annual tournaments, which was what was difficult at the beginning of the year. I ended up overcoming it and winning and recovering, trying really hard for UK lockdown. And luckily my boyfriend is my coach and that helps. So I had a kind of training at home and then I got my first win a few weeks ago.

– Euronews: How did you feel? Have you already assimilated it?

– AB: To be honest, it has been a relief. I won that tournament. He was obviously playing at a good level, but he wasn’t where he thought he should be. And I think it’s a very positive thing to know that you can win. Maybe not playing the best you can. I always thought that when you get your first victory, everything will be perfect and that is not golf. I shot pretty well all week, but it’s good to get over that first hurdle.

– Euronews: What role does comeback play in sport? Get to that state where the mind overcomes matter and says “I can do it.”

– AB: Without a doubt. I think there are so many great stories right now in sport and certainly in golf. Take a look at who won the AIG Women’s British Open this year: Sophia Popov, after going through so many struggles and injuries and thinking about quitting. So it takes a lot of resilience. You have to keep working hard and working hard when you are here.

– Euronews: What is it like to be a woman in what is traditionally considered a male-dominated sport?

– AB: I think growing up I was the only female junior golfer in my golf club, except for my two sisters. So you get used to growing up with boys. And I think that’s what helped me, to be honest. It really made my game play a lot faster probably because men were always so much better. They always hit further than me. So I tried to keep up with them. In fact, I think that improves.

– Euronews: Do you think sport is tackling gender equality again? Have you seen a change in the last few years since you turned pro?

– AB: Yes, completely. Now you have these great golf clubs that did not allow women to play the course or even enter the club. And you can see them changing their rules. You even see things like dress codes. Everything changes for women too. So I certainly think there has been a great improvement in the last few years.

– Euronews: There has been a comprehensive change in Saudi Arabia. What do you think of all this, of allowing women to play golf for the first time? It’s great, great news.

– AB: Yes, I think it is one of the first professional sports for women there, it is an exciting time for women. I am an ambassador for Golf Saudi, so I am very proud to represent them in the coming weeks. I have been there several times and always have a good time. Golf is really booming there. The golf courses are amazing, so I am delighted that the girls experience the golf courses there, I think they are going to love it.

– Euronews: We are here at the Emirates golf course for this tournament, the Moonlight Classic. Is it very different to play at night?

– AB: It is very different. I had my first experience last year. Playing in this event at dusk when it’s getting dark and the lights are on is probably the hardest part. But I think it’s going to be exciting. I actually played a practice round last night in the dark and it takes a bit of getting used to. But I think it’s a really fun concept. It makes people talk about an event that is different, no one else is doing this.

– Euronews: Golf is very important here in Dubai. How are the facilities? You have played on the best courses in the world.

– AB: Yes. I think it helps that the weather is so good here. that is an important factor. The state of all the golf courses is always amazing here too. In fact, I usually come here in winter when you can’t play in the UK. I love coming to the Middle East and being able to work my game. I think it is the perfect place to come. And after Christmas, I’ll be back, I’m sure of that. My sister was here for several years, so I think I have been coming here since I was 15 or 16 years old.

– Euronews: How has Covid affected the game?

– AB: I think at the beginning of the lockdown, when the UK was closed for the first time, it was quite difficult. Obviously, I couldn’t go out on the pitch, but I really think we all made the most of it. I saw that it was very difficult to have a green that could be spread out on a carpet: they were trying in their gardens. And I really think it made everyone realize how much they missed golf. And as soon as the confinement was lifted, I didn’t even have a minute to drink tea. I was so busy. I think it has been really positive, in any case, to get out of this situation.

– Euronews: I think so too. What’s been really cool is seeing how well organized tournaments like this were, in terms of social distancing, making sure people wear the masks, and that everything is sanitized. Has it made things easier for you?

– AB: Completely. I know a lot of people were looking forward to going on a trip again. Obviously we travel everywhere and in contact with people, but every tournament we have played has been very well organized. They have done the best they could to keep us safe, always maintaining social distance and always wearing masks. We are in a kind of bubble. So we are only in contact with each other. We do tests every week before playing. So we all know that we are in good hands.

– Euronews: What advice would you give to young girls who aspire to a professional career in the world of golf?

– AB: If you see this interview where I’m here in the sun in Dubai, I don’t think I should add more. We are very lucky to be able to travel the world and reach incredible places. They take good care of us. And I remember when I grew up I played in the dead of winter. And I mean, it’s worth all the practice and hard work that you put into it. When you finally go on tour, we have a great time and it’s very enjoyable for all of us.