Name: Rachel Thompson
17 year-old Rachel Thompson is one of the hottest golfing prospects in the country at the moment. Plying her trade out of Cork Golf Club, the 2 handicapper seems to be heading to one place and one place only, the top. Having spent most of fourth year (transition year) out on the course, Rachel’s progression over the past 12 months has been incredible. With an eye on moving abroad (preferably America) on a golf scholarship to the forefront of her plans, it seems that Rachel’s expectations match her determination.
Rachel took an interest in the sport relatively late on, admitting that she was 12 before she started playing, “I was 12 when I started playing so yes it was (quite late) but I had lots of other training at the time, I was doing lots of horse-riding but then I gave that up. What got me interested was my mum because she played a lot so I just started going out with her in Douglas,” Rachel says. Originally Rachel and her mum were playing in Douglas but shortly after the teen began playing, they both moved to Cork Golf Club.
It was a trip to Spain aged 13 which made Rachel realise that she wanted to take the sport seriously and hopefully one day play for Ireland. “I started playing competitions when I was 13 and I went over to Spain with my mum for a week of competition and she introduced me to this person who had played golf for Ireland and from that moment on, all I wanted to do was play for Ireland.” Starting off with a handicap of 36 it is fair to say that the fifth year student has come a long way since then.
About a year ago when Rachel was out playing with friends who were International players she realised that if she wanted to take her game to the next level then she would have to change. “I was playing with two girls who were internationals and I could just see how much better they were than me. I decided that I’d have to change something in order to get better so I found a strength and conditioning coach up in Dublin and then another coach in Dublin to help my game. Over the last year I’ve put so much effort in to golf, I started the year playing off 5 (handicap) and I’m down to 2 now, so yeah a lot of work over the past 12 months.”
The period between April and September was a hectic one for the Bruce student to say the least. Rachel has travelled all over the British Isles during the summer months and was recently in Portugal during her mid-term. “There have been a lot of competitions lately, I started with the Ladies Stroke Play in ‘The Island’ and then the following week the Girls Open Stroke Play, then over the next few weeks I had the Scottish Ladies Open, the Welsh Ladies Open then the Irish Ladies Close. There was a gap for about a month so I went up and watched the Curtis Cup and then I had the Ulster Girls, the European Girls but the best was the Home Internationals. We won the Home Internationals for the first time ever, the girls have never won it at under 18 level so yeah that was fantastic.”
One person who Rachel aims to follow is Olivia Mehaffey, who is currently playing golf at Arizona State University, “I met Olivia at a competition in Ulster and she’s one of my best friends now, she’s such a good golfer and when I met her for the first time she was playing for Ireland and I just said I want to do what you do, I want to play for Ireland.” Recently Rachel spent time in Portugal with the Darren Clarke Foundation, where she met the man himself, admitting that it was a fantastic experience. “I was in Portugal for about a week with the Darren Clarke Foundation. They brought me over as part of the Champions tour because I won a national championship this year, so Darren was there and watched us play, it was great.”
Although Rachel makes regular trips to Dublin to see her coaches she takes home a programme from her fitness coach to do in Cork. Thompson is also training in the Mardyke as she is part of the UCC emerging talent scheme. Rachel explains however that none of that would be possible without family support. “My mum is so supportive, she drives me up to Dublin whenever I need a lesson and just drops me to the door of the course and then every morning whenever I need a lift she just drops everything and brings me.”
With winter rules now in play Rachel won’t be able to lower her handicap but once February comes she has set her sights on improving, “When the summer comes I want to try and get down to scratch and get on the Home Internationals team again, that would be great. At the moment with school, things are going well, I’m able to get all my work done in school and then get out to the course afterwards.”
Whatever Rachel decides to do, whether going abroad or staying in Ireland, it seems certain that she is another young golfer who is destined to have a future in the sport, watch this space.