Alison Muirhead doesn’t hang about. In fact, her progress has been so rapid over these last couple of weeks she’ll probably get a speeding fine and a couple of points on her licence.

A fortnight ago, the 21-year-old Scot was an amateur golfer but she opted to turn professional just before stage one of the Ladies European Tour’s qualifying school. Muirhead made quite the impression in the paid ranks. She won that particular shoot-out and went on to finish joint second in the five round final last week to earn a full tour card.

“It still hasn’t hit me and it was all a bit of a shock,” she said of the kind of hurtling rise that would give most folk the bends.

Muirhead has learned quickly. But then she always seemed to be a fast developer. “It was my dad who got me into golf and he would say I was an obnoxious little child because I didn’t listen to him when we went to the range,” recalled Muirhead of her formative dabbles with this Royal & Ancient game.


“He’d be saying things like ‘hit another wedge’ and instead I would just pull the driver out. He couldn’t believe how well I hit it. I just loved it.”

Muirhead was born in South Africa and lives in Dubai but her Scottish connections run deep. Her dad is from South Queensferry and her granddad hails from Paisley. And as for her mother? “She’s English but she couldn’t change my mind about representing Scotland,” added Muirhead with a chuckle.

At a casual perusal, Muirhead’s progression to the main European circuit looks as serene as a swan on a tranquil boating pond but her golfing journey has not been plain sailing. “When I was younger I had big growth spurts which caused me a lot of pain and prohibited me from playing golf,” said Muirfield, who was also a keen netball player and represented Dubai at a high level.

“Two or three years ago, I broke my foot playing netball. My golf coach wasn’t very happy about that. I’ve had a few bumps on the road. But I just wanted to be successful so I pushed myself more and more. Even when I was injured, I took all the positive energy and kept fighting for what I wanted.”


Muirhead’s strong will and drive has reaped the rewards and while her sporting background was in team pursuits, this very individual game has suited her down to a tee. “Golf challenged me more than team sport and that’s what I liked about it,” she said. “Everything relies on you. I enjoy the toughness of it. The constant challenge of golf is something I love. I am so competitive and I hate losing. Golf ticks all the boxes for me. It tests your character. It can be survival of the fittest at times and I love that challenge.”

Following a merger with the LPGA, the galvanised Ladies European Tour will offer record prize money this year of $18m after prolonged period in the doldrums. Muirhead’s timing has been spot on. Earning a place in the Ladies Scottish Open is a big goal for 2020 while qualifying for the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon would be a significant moment for the family. Her great, great grandfather was a past captain there back in the day.

Her grandfather, meanwhile, will be a keen observer as Muirhead embarks on a maiden season among the elite of Europe. “He’s a huge supporter of me and it would be wonderful for him to come and watch me on home soil as a professional.” she said. “I’ve played at Troon in the Helen Holm Open as an amateur. My grandfather is 87 and he walked 18 holes every day and watched me.”

Given the way Muirhead has started her professional career, there may be a few others keeping an eye on her in 2020.