When you’re used to going hither and yon as a professional golfer, a three-week spell at home can swiftly bring on the wanderlust. “I’m getting itchy feet now,” said Heather MacRae with the kind of thirst for travel that got Judith Chalmers through 30 years of hosting Wish You Were Here.

That particular itch has been scratched already, though. MacRae is now in New Mexico where she will form part of the GB&I side for this week’s Women’s PGA Cup at the Twin Warriors club on the outskirts of Albuquerque.

This team tussle, which also features the USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden and South Africa, is only in its infancy, having been inaugurated just three years ago, but it already holds a special place in MacRae’s heart.

In 2019, her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Just a couple of weeks before undergoing a major operation to combat the devastating disease, MacRae won the WPGA Championship to book her place on the Women’s PGA Cup team later in the year.

That date in the diary gave her huge motivation in both her rehabilitation and her quest to return to the cut-and-thrust of competitive golf and the 39-year-old’s determined, defiant spirit would be rewarded.

“Knowing I was on that team gave me a great sense of purpose,” reflected MacRae. “Winning the WPGA title to get on to that team was probably the biggest thing in my career. At the time (with the diagnosis) I didn’t know what was going on in my life. But the prospect of the playing in the PGA Cup made me take time off after the surgery and focus properly on my recovery. I didn’t want to push too hard, set myself back and miss out on the PGA Cup.

“I just wanted to play it. I wasn’t bothered about how I played. Just teeing up the last time was enough for me. That was a success. It’s different this year, though. Now I want to come back with the trophy.”

Given all that she has been through in the last few years, it’s not surprising that MacRae grasps every opportunity with great gusto. Competing and coaching is what sustains her. It’s a fulfilling golfing life for a woman who has been given a new lease of it.

“I remember I went back to the Ladies European Tour qualifying school at the end of 2019 genuinely expecting to see that I was too old, not good enough and that would be it,” recalled MacRae. “I had achieved my goal of playing at the PGA Cup and was actually on a bit of a downer after it thinking, ‘what do I do now?’ So q-school became the next goal and I got through it, went on to play 12 events on tour and kept my card. I do still feel like my golf is getting better and I’m getting fitter and stronger. I might get to 40 and that will be the tip of the hill and I’ll topple off it. But then again I might get stronger and keep going.”

Here in 2022, MacRae is pondering another return to the qualifying school to regain her status but before that, there is a Women’s PGA Cup to savour. She’ll be in good company this week. Alongside the Scot in the GB&I team is the evergreen 60-year-old Alison Nicholas, who won the Women’s British Open and the US Women’s Open during a shimmering career that was burnished by six Solheim Cup appearances as a player and two stints as European skipper.

“It’s going to be a real highlight playing in a team with Alison,” added MacRae of a team-mate who has the enduring qualities of a brass monument. “She’s seen it, done it and got all the t-shirts and we’ll all can learn something from that experience. There’s a really nice mix in the team and we all have a part to play.”

The part golf plays in MacRae’s life, meanwhile, remains hugely significant. In its various forms, this stick and ba’ game keeps on giving. “There is a lot of crap going on everywhere but golf has been a nice escape from it,” she said. “Whether through playing on various tours, coaching or being at golf days, I’ve met so many lovely people this year. I’m just enjoying life.”