How much do you know about the noble pursuit of fencing? Perhaps you’re well-versed in the finer details of its swashbuckling, tactical cut-and-thrust? Or you may not know your Arret a bon temps from your elbow.

Clare Queen has spent a lifetime unleashing drivers, clattering irons and stroking putters but the tools of golfing combat have now been swapped for epees, foils and sabres as the former Ladies European Tour player embarks on a new chapter in her sporting life.

Having spent the last three years as Performance Director with Scottish Golf, Queen is now settling into her position as the Head of Pathways and Community Change at Scottish Fencing.

“It’s a wee bit of a leap,” chuckled Queen in an interview that should’ve started with a cry of ‘en garde’. So, how did that particular leap come about? “Good question,” replied Queen as she elaborated on this fresh, wide-ranging and exciting diversion in her career.

“I’ve been in golf my whole life in one way or another and there was part of me that really wanted to work in a new sport. At Scottish Golf, I was involved in performance but this is really different and it’s about developing fencing and getting people into it. That part really excited me. I was never exposed to fencing at all in my life and many will be similar. I feel like I’m back at school, leaning new things and starting from scratch.”

Coming from one of Scotland’s largest participation sports to a more niche pastime has been something of an eye-opener for Queen. The impact, for instance, of the Covid pandemic on these two pursuits could not have been more contrasting.

“Golf was fortunate in that it opened up again very early on and has enjoyed a real boom,” Queen said. “Being involved in golf at that time, I was in a bubble and tended not to look out of that. But now I see the other side of things. Indoor sports, obviously, struggled and fencing clubs have found the going tough. Some members have gone elsewhere as it was closed for so long. Restrictions have really hindered things and there is a recovery job to do.”

Queen is up for the challenge, though. “Scotland has about 800 fencing club members and we want to bolster that,” she said of a sport that keeps the mind sharp and the body in shape. “I become a big curling fan once every four years when the Winter Olympics is on and fencing can create that same interest at the summer Games. It’s something different. Historically, there was a lot of access to fencing through the private school network but there is work being done to make it more inclusive and reduce any barriers. When you were young, who didn’t want to have a pretend sword fight? There’s an excitement attached to it and getting youngsters involved through schools and community groups is a big part of our new strategy. Like golf, it can be a sport for all ages.”

Queen plied her trade on the Ladies European Tour for seven years and reached a career-high of 39th on the circuit’s rankings in 2007 but the rigours and burdens of the tour eventually took a toll.

“Unfortunately, it got to the point where I had to get a job that actually paid,” she said of her decision to call it a day at end of 2012. “That’s the reality of life on tour. If you’re not paying the bills you have to do something else. I don’t have any regrets, though, and I can always say that I was a tour player. Travelling the world, being my own boss and doing the sport I loved for a living was pretty cool.

“Professional sport has a lot of ups and downs but you do build plenty of resilience because of that and you can pass what you learn on to others.”

The move into the world of fencing may be something of a step into the unknown for Queen but a change of scene may just have some benefits for her relationship with her first sporting love. “I hope I’ll enjoy my own social golf a lot more now,” she admitted. “When golf is your job, it’s hard to switch off and just play it. Every waking moment would involve golf in some form. This will be a nice escape.