It’s no surprise to see Clare McMahon among of the top young female golfers in the province.
After all the 16-year-old grew up on the Balmoral Golf Course, which is owned and managed by her parents, John and Lesley.
“My dad got me involved when I was four. He’d take me out to the 10th hole and we’d play it over and over. I’d usually play a hole, then take a hole off while he played, then play again,” she explained. “That was my introduction to the sport.”
It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with golf.
“Not at first, but by the time I was seven I started playing in leagues and I loved it. I wanted to get good at it,”
She got involved in leagues, such as the McLennan Ross Junior Tour, when she was “12 or 13”.
“I didn’t win many tournaments in fact I didn’t win any, but I wanted to get better, to play with the best girls,” she said.
“I like tournament golf because it forces you to buckle down and hit the shots to be competitive. I know the girls in the province and how good they are so I know what I have to do to get better and compete.”
She’s done just that as she finished eighth in the McLennan Ross Tour final at Wolf Creek Golf Resort last year, as a 15-year-old.
Growing up, playing the Balmoral course, which is noted for it’s slightly smaller greens, was a benefit to Clare as she worked hard to have a strong short game.
“I also played on a par-3 course near Rimbey and that also helped my short game,” she said. “I worked a lot on shots from 150 yards and in.”
But that’s only part of her strengths. She drives the ball well and her putting is “OK”.
“My driving is usually solid, although at times it’s off. As for putting that’s something you always have to work on. What I need to continue to work on is my long irons.”
McMahon hasn’t played much this season since she was busy finishing her Grade 10 at Notre Dame High School and working at the course.
However she does get out to practice as much as possible, usually by herself.
“I usually go out early in the morning before everyone else or later after everyone else,” she said.
“I usually hit a couple of balls. It makes you think more. You’re not playing with anyone else so you don’t compare yourself to them, you just work on your game. It’s just you and that’s what I like about golf. You’re competing against yourself.”
McMahon will continue to play in as many tournaments as possible, although the provincial junior girls’ tournament is not on her calendar this year.
“I was too busy and had other commitments, so I didn’t register, but that’s something I’ll look at next year,” she said. “I would like to do that and possibly get to the nationals.”
McMahon also competed for Notre Dame last year and has two years remaining with the program before she looks to take the next step.
“Last year I was scouted by a school in Texas,” she said. “It was in August and they wanted me there in September, but they didn’t know how old I was. Hopefully down the road.
“I want to play in college, hopefully out of Alberta. I don’t know why, but I would like to get away and see if golf’s something I want to pursue. I don’t necessarily want to be a professional, but as I see it now I want to be involved in the industry one way or another. Possibly a superintendent, or something else.
McMahon is athletic and has the strength to drive the ball beyond most girls in the province.
“I definitely hit it a lot further than a lot of girls, even with my fairway woods,” she said.
“But a lot of people think because I do hit the ball far I have no touch around the greens. But I worked hard on that part of my game to get it down.”
It also doesn’t hurt that she’s able to work on that part of her game almost every day.
Danny Rode is a former Advocate sports reporter who retired this year. Rode writes a weekly feature for Friday Forward.