She is a self-styled Buchan quine, a museum director with little interest in golf. But now Sarah Malone has been hired by Donald Trump to bring his controversial links development to north east Scotland.

Ms Malone is certainly no apprentice. The Cambridge graduate, who also has a degree in fine art from Glasgow School of Art, flew out to New York a few weeks ago to meet the American tycoon.

He persuaded the 34-year-old to step down from her role running the Gordon Highlanders' museum in Aberdeen. During six-and-a-half years there, she oversaw a £1.2m extension, boosting visitor numbers to more than 30,000.

Now she will start a new career as executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links Scotland and will be second in command only to Mr Trump, working closely with George Sorial, who has overseen the project from the start.

Yesterday, Ms Malone, who grew up in Peterhead, vowed to draw the golfing world's focus to the north-east. She said: "I think it's a phenomenal project. There's no question that it will have an immeasurable impact on tourism. It's quite clear it will give us a completely different level of exposure. Everything that makes Scotland wonderful is within a short distance around this region. This is an opportunity to showcase what we do.

"We have a world-class developer whose brand is associated with luxury and excellence. I think he is a visionary, a very positive man. I can't work for someone I don't believe in."

Two years ago, Ms Malone won a local competition to become "the face" of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, a region-wide campaign that saw her picture on billboards and banners across Grampian.

She was chosen because she "epitomised" the attributes identified as belonging to city and shire people.

She said: "I come from a working-class background. I'm a Buchan quine.

"There's still preparatory work to be done but I will be involved at every stage.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, I am from the north-east of Scotland and I'm passionate about the heritage of this area."

However Ms Malone admitted she did not have an extensive knowledge of golf.

She added: "Leaving the museum is going to pull my heart strings but I'm ready for this new position.

"Golfing is not my second language yet, but it will be. I now consider it my business to know everything about golf - past, present and future, and I'm looking forward to absorbing myself in the project."

The proposed development on the Menie Estate, north of Aberdeen, has been extremely controversial. The plan was called in by the Scottish Government after it was rejected by an Aberdeenshire Council committee.

Opponents of the project include RSPB Scotland, although it also has wide local support. Mr Trump wants to build 500 houses, 950 holiday homes, a hotel and clubhouse. Planning applications are yet to be approved, with a detailed masterplan of the site to be published in the autumn.

Yesterday Donald Trump Jnr welcomed Ms Malone to the team during an informal meeting at MacLeod House - formerly Menie House which was renamed after Trump's mother Mary MacLeod, who was born on the Isle of Lewis.

The 31-year-old is the eldest of the tycoon's five children. He was born to first wife Ivana, along with model Ivanka, 27, and second son Eric, 25.

The tycoon has two other children - daughter Tiffany, 15, born to second wife Maria Maples, and a son Barron, 3, born to his third wife Melania.

Mr Trump Jnr said: "We were impressed with her distinguished career and the fact she was well-respected in the Aberdeenshire was important.

"She will be involved in all aspects of management and will complement our talented team."

On his third visit to the site at Menie yesterday, Mr Trump Jnr said he felt at home in Scotland.

He said: "It's an amazing place, a truly incredible find. There's not too much land like this anywhere in the world.

"I definitely feel very much at home when I am here in Scotland.

"I've worn a kilt, I had haggis last night and I've had it before, and I've not yet tossed a caber, but I know what it is."

But he confessed that he still had a lot of work before he could rival his father on the golf course.

He laughed: "I try, but my father's the golfer and I'm a hacker, I've got a little bit too much work just now to get good.

"Unfortunately it's one of the sports where you have to dedicate the time." Billionaire's battle to get £1bn golf development on course...

The controversy over Donald Trump's planning application for a £1bn golf development in the north-east has been long and bitter: MARCH 2006 Mr Trump finally announces plans to build a new world class golfing centre in Aberdeenshire. APRIL 2006 Mr Trump flies into Scotland to visit the site where he hopes to build his world-beating course. Claims that First Minister Jack McConnell breached ministerial rules over dealings with Mr Trump are rejected. NOVEMBER 2007 Aberdeenshire councillors make the unexpected decision to reject the £1bn resort. Mr Trump says he will not appeal against the decision to turn down the plans. DECEMBER 2007 The Scottish Government makes the move to decide whether the golf resort goes ahead. Alex Salmond meets Mr Trump's representatives the day before ministers decide to have the final say. A committee later describes the actions as "cavalier". JUNE 2008 The public inquiry gets under way in Aberdeen and Mr Trump gives evidence. NOVEMBER 2008 The Scottish Government announces that Mr Trump's controversial plans for the Aberdeenshire coast have been approved.