Starting a new job can often leave you in a desperate fankle. Just ask Heather MacRae.

“I was shaking and if I was as nervous as that on a golf course, I wouldn’t have been able to hit the ball,” chuckled MacRae as she reflected on a first morning that left her stomach churned like a badly ploughed field. 

"I’d been my own boss for so long as a golfer and when I parked up at the office I thought, ‘what am I doing?’.”

What MacRae is doing is suiting her to a tee. Well, now that those nerves have calmed down.

After 16 years as a touring professional, and a number of seasons before that as a successful amateur, she is putting all her experience and expertise to good use as a golf talent manager with FirstPoint USA, the Glasgow-based company that helps student-athletes secure sports scholarships at universities and colleges on the other side of the pond.

Working alongside Callum Macaulay, the former DP World Tour campaigner who helped Scotland’s amateurs win an historic Eisenhower Trophy in 2008, MacRae is settling into a new routine.

“I’m in an office but I’m still surrounded by sports people so it’s not alien,” she said of this esprit de corps. “The people I work with have been golfers, like Callum, or footballers or rugby players. Everyone has been through the change from sport to the office. It’s quite stimulating.”

MacRae’s credentials ticked all the boxes for the FirstPoint USA high heid yins. As a teenager, she attended McLennan Junior College in Texas before enrolling at San Diego State University.

By her own admission, her decision to pursue the American dream was something of a leap of faith. Ultimately, it worked out well for her but she knows that upping sticks and heading to a new country is not easy.

Helping potential students make an informed decision is a major part of the 40-year-old’s new role. “It was quite a daunting prospect when I went,” she recalled. “I didn’t really know what I was signing up for to be honest. My parents didn’t either.

“One of my friends enrolled at junior college in Texas. I was taking a gap year from high school to figure out what I wanted to do and I just ended up going with her.

“I then moved on to San Diego and when I got off the plane there, I thought, ‘yes, this is where I want to be’. I loved it. The university had 35,000 at it so it was a culture shock. Going to college in the US is a big change and there are so many different parts to the decision. That’s the kind of thing I can help with.”

While she retains an unquenchable competitive drooth – qualifying for the GB&I Women’s PGA Cup team is her big goal for 2024 – MacRae knew that the time had come for a change.

“I didn’t want to get to the point where I didn’t enjoy golf,” added MacRae, who was still making occasional outings on the main Ladies European Tour last season.

“My family play, my friends play. My fear was that I wouldn’t even want to play golf with them. I always said I’d step back when I stopped loving it. I still enjoyed the competition but it was the other stuff around it that wasn’t so enjoyable.

"I had a niggling injury too and just couldn’t do touring golf properly. It was the right time and, fortunately, the right opportunity came up to do something else.”

In this game, opportunity keeps knocking. And MacRae, more than most, cherishes every chance that comes along while embracing each challenge with tireless gusto.

Five years ago, her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Normal life came shuddering to a halt but, mercifully, she was given a new lease of it.

Even in this latest chapter of MacRae’s career, though, there are sombre reminders of the fragility of existence.

“I was speaking to a college coach based in Arizona recently,” she said. “I’d played an event there when I was at San Diego and I mentioned I’d played with Erica Blasberg and Cassandra Kirkland.

"We then realised both of them are not with us anymore. It was another little moment when I realised how lucky I am to still be here and to be enjoying what I’m doing. I’m grateful for everything.”