GRACE Crawford has packed so much into the last few months, she’ll probably get hit with a charge for excess baggage.

Back in October, Crawford swapped North Berwick for the Bahamas as she embarked on a scholarship at the exclusive Albany Academy. Here in April, the 15-year-old is savouring a sizeable success in the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Amateur Championship. It’s been quite the whirlwind.

“Six months ago, I wouldn’t have thought winning a national championship would be possible,” admitted Crawford, who became the first Scot to win the cherished Helen Holm title since 2002. “But since starting at Albany, my game has come on in leaps and bounds. Coming back, I thought anything was possible.”

There’s no rest for the winners in this game. Crawford is plunging herself back into the competitive cut-and-thrust at this weekend’s R&A Girls’ Under-16 Amateur championship at Enville. “And then I’m straight to Heathrow after that to fly back to the Bahamas,” she added with tireless joie de vivre.

Albany, a luxurious resort and centre of sporting excellence which Tiger Woods and Ernie Els had a hand in creating, is suiting Crawford to a tee. It’s not a bad old life.

“To be offered a place there really was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Crawford, whose golfing talents are being nurtured by Albany’s resident PGA professional, Jon Hearn. “It was a big step and it’s a long way from home. But I had to seize it. I’m now at the boarding school and there are kids from lots of different countries doing the same as me so we’re all in the same boat. There was so much going on, I didn’t have time to be homesick. It’s busy and that’s the way I like it.”

Crawford may be only 15 but she’s no stranger to golfing success. While other young ‘uns may have still been getting to grips with the complexities of tying a shoelace or riding a bike without stabilisers, Crawford was getting a taste for glory in junior showpieces like The Wee Wonders and the US Kids Golf World Championship.

“I was two or three when I started playing so it feels like a long journey,” said Crawford like some seasoned veteran reflecting on a few decades at the coalface. “As a junior, I found myself winning some events. I loved winning and quickly realised I wanted to do golf as a career. I was tiny when I first had the dream of becoming a pro. Each year I’ve been taking little steps towards that.”

Any talented female golfer coming out of North Berwick, of course, tends to be labelled as the next Catriona Matthew. Given Matthew’s mighty achievements in the game, it’s an unfair burden to lump on a gifted teenager but Crawford, a grounded, driven and disciplined young woman, has lofty ambitions. 

Matthew herself is helping to steer this East Lothian prodigy by offering her the kind of illuminating general knowledge you’d get with a delve into the volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

“Catriona has given me so much advice, it’s hard to pick out one piece which is more valuable than the other,” said Crawford of the myriad pearls of wisdom received from the former Women’s Open champion and Solheim Cup great. “She has helped in all manner of ways and I’ll always be grateful. Catriona has had the career we all aspire to and she’s made it clear to me what I need to do to give myself the best chance of reaching my goals.”

They develop quickly in the women’s game. Lydia Ko, for instance, was just 15 when she won a pro event while Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul was a mere 14 when she claimed a history-busting success on the Ladies European Tour. 

“It’s amazing to see teenagers going out on tours and winning,” added Crawford. “It’s not daunting, it’s inspiring. I don’t graduate until 2025 so turning pro is still a long-term goal. I’m fully committed to golf and will keep working hard. The Helen Holm is by far my biggest success and hopefully it’s the first of many more.”

There could be a few more phone calls from the golf writers too. “At least I’ll be doing something right if people want to talk to me,” she said with a chuckle.