Amy Boulden has a lot of style. Impeccably dressed and armed with a dazzling smile that can light up a room, the first thing you are likely to notice about her is how much care she takes of her nails, and how they always match the colour of her dress.
Ah…and you are also unlikely to miss the earrings. They are always massive, simply because Boulden believes it’s no use wearing danglers that can’t be noticed from a distance.
And yet, the 21-year-old Welsh wonder makes more heads turn her way on the golf course because she is an exceptionally gifted player…a star in the making.
Boulden definitely is more substance than style. Having turned professional at the end of 2013 after winning everything that an amateur could in the UK, she captured the Rookie of the Year award on the Ladies European Tour in 2014. This, despite the fact that she did not have a fully-exempt card at the beginning of the year, having failed to finish inside the top-30 of Qualifying School.
— James Pontin (@thejamespontin) May 13, 2015
Boulden, who finished 18th in the LET Order of Merit last season, has made another good start to 2015. Finishing tied-fourth last week in China was nice, but she is looking forward to winning some silverware this year after coming close a couple of times in 2014.
“I was in a great position to win in France last year, but Azahara Munoz made birdie on her last two holes to beat me,” says Boulden. “I was in contention a few times, so I feel I am ready to win a tournament.
“I am not frustrated that I did not win last year, but it was a great learning experience. I played a lot of final rounds with some great players and faced the pressure of contending for a win. It has taught me what I need to do when in such a position this year.”
Some silverware is all right for this year, but her long-term goal is simple. “I want to be the No1 player in the world,” Boulden adds without any pretension.
She has adopted a very unique route towards that goal. Boulden is one of very few golfers in the world to be coached by an established touring professional, the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC champion, Robert Rock.
Boulden, who started working with the Englishman before turning pro, credits him with a lot of her success and says Rock’s own busy travelling schedule has never stopped him from giving her quality time.
She said: “Our weeks off match quite a bit, but he has been very good with me. He makes time to see me even when he is very busy. Even when he is playing tournaments, he will text me and ask me about my round, and ask me to send him videos of my swing.
“The good thing about Rob is that because he is a player as well, he explains things from a player’s point of view. He knows when to change and when not to tinker with something.
“Also, he is great in advising on different sides of things, not just the golf swing. So, he can speak to me about course management. He speaks to me on things like caddies, and what to expect from them…he will tell me things about preparation for tournaments.
“A normal swing coach will not bother too much about these things. He really has helped me a lot with his experiences of playing on the Tour.”
The demographics of ladies golf is changing fast with a number of teenagers making headlines across the world.
Lydia Ko is the world No 1 at age 17, while 18-year-old Charley Hull is being seen as Europe’s next big superstar. Then there is the 17-year-old Brooke Henderson of Canada who is also making waves.
How does a 21-year-old Boulden feel about all these recent changes? And does she regret her decision of turning professional at the age of 20 and not earlier?
She said: “The fact that a 17-year-old is the world No 1 is unbelievable. I think it is just great for women’s golf that we have players like Lydia and Charley.
“But then, I also think age doesn’t matter in golf. You can see players like Trish Johnson and Laura Davies. Trish was the oldest winner on the LET last year. It doesn’t matter age-wise. If you play consistent golf, you can get into a hot stretch and beat anybody.
“The way these youngsters play, it does push you. This year, in New Zealand, they paired Lydia (17 years), Charley (18) and Su Oh (18), and they were 25-under par (Ko shot 61, Hull 64 and Oh 66) for the group that day. That was ridiculous, but that’s how good they are.
“I thought I was ready to turn professional when I did. No regrets on that. I had done everything that I could do in the amateur game. I knew it when I started turning up for events expecting to win, and got disappointed when I did not. I had already won all the events that were worth winning in the amateur circuit.
“I could have turned pro after winning the Curtis Cup (2012), but I wanted to win the Welsh Open.”
With both her main sponsors – Jebel Ali Resort and GAC – based in Dubai, Boulden spends a lot of time in the city, and loves every minute of it.
“I love Dubai. It is one of my favourite places in the world. Really, it is the only other place I can think of living apart from my home in northern Wales,” Boulden says.
“My sister was a teaching pro at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club for a few years and I have come here many times. So, I knew a lot of people here even before turning pro.
“As for both my sponsors being based here, I think I have to credit it to my manager (Richard Rayment), who has some great relationships here and he introduced me to them.
“I feel very welcomed at Jebel Ali Resort, and they take great care of me. I can relax here, and I can do a lot of quality practice at the golf course here. It’s perfect for me.”
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