Kirsty Gallacher is a busy lady, juggling her career with a young family. However, she tells Women & Golf she thrives under pressure and knows exactly what questions to ask.
By Lewine Mair
Women & Golf magazine were asking Kirsty Gallacher about pressure. What, in her line of work for SKY, was the equivalent of a six-foot putt?
She thought about it for a couple of seconds before deciding that it was having to speak to a golfer following a bad round. Either that, or knowing that the next sportsperson she had to interview had a reputation for being a little spiky “and you know you’re going to have to tread a bit carefully”.
Kirsty is not remotely ‘spiky’ but there was a touch of the kind of anxiety she had mentioned for us when it came to posing questions about her love life.
“No comment,” said Kirsty, as politely as she could and against a background of supportive ‘Nos’ from her agent.
That’s the trouble with being as well-known as she is. Everyone wants to know your business and, when your job demands that you have a high profile, it’s in your interests for much of it to be known. But of course there comes a point when enough is enough.
Kirsty, as everyone knows, is the daughter of Bernard Gallacher of Ryder Cup fame. Bernard played in the first of eight Ryder Cups at the age of 20 and in 1977 beat none other than the legendary Jack Nicklaus in the singles.
He won eleven European Tour titles, while he was also a three-time Ryder Cup captain whose team lost twice before going on to record a famous win at Oak Hill in 1995.
Going back to the question of pressure, Kirsty said that she learned a lot about it from her father during those captaincy years.
“I knew that my father was under a lot of stress on occasions like that and I think I learned almost subconsciously how to handle tough situations,” says Kirsty. “The way I am now, I actually like to be feeling a bit of stress when I’m working.”
There was never any more pressure on the Gallacher family as a whole than when, in April 2014, Bernard suffered a cardiac arrest. He had interrupted a Spanish holiday with his wife, Lesley, to host a corporate day at the Banchory GC and had just embarked on an evening speech at Aberdeen’s Marcliffe Hotel when the incident occurred without any kind of a warning.
To the mingled horror and disbelief of his audience, he collapsed, back-of-head first, on to the floor. The hotel’s defibrillator came into play (the medical men said it had been crucial) and he was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Kirsty, meantime, was given the news by her colleagues at Sky and it fell to her to inform her mother in the middle of the night.
All told, Bernard was “out of it” for five days. In truth, he could remember nothing from the day he had boarded his plane in Gibraltar to fly back to the UK until the moment he came round at the Royal Infirmary with a priest at his bedside.
The main question pondered by all the family as they prayed and waited for an improvement was why Bernard, of all people, should have suffered heart attack. Someone as fit as he was had seemed to be an unlikely candidate, especially since he ate sensibly, played a lot of golf and exercised in the gym.
Mercifully, Bernard has now recovered and Kirsty, along with the rest of the family, has poured her all into a campaign to have golf clubs all over Europe having a defibrillator on the premises.
Kirsty learned golf from her father in the days when he was the head professional at Wentworth, while she also took lessons from his “very patient” staff. Her swing was – and is – a good one, with Bernard having once suggested that she could play as a professional if she devoted more time to the game.
Time, though, is not something she exactly has in abundance. A mother of two young sons, Oscar 8 and Jude 5, Kirsty, whose handicap hovers around the 18 mark, finds that the only opportunity she has to make a bit of progress with her game is when she is on holiday at her parents’ place in Seville.
Hence the reason she is among those who would like to see ever more of an emphasis on nine-hole golf.
“Golf doesn’t have to be 18 holes,” she suggests. “If nine holes were the norm I’m sure a lot more people would play.
“Because I don’t work on Fridays, I do the school run and, while I could factor nine holes into the day, 18 would never work.”
Asked to comment on golfers in general, Kirsty said she loves them for their patience.
“I’m one of these people who want everything to happen now,” she admits. “I’m incredibly impatient.
“Golfers, though, are completely different. They seem to be the most patient people of all in the sporting world. Golf is a lovely, gentleman’s game and it’s played at a nice pace. I also like the rules and the traditions that have stayed with the game and made it what it is.”
The above is an extract of an interview with Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, published in the July/August issue of Women & Golf magazine, on sale Friday 5 June.
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Picture: Getty Images – Rory McIlory takes part in a Q&A with Kirsty during the European Tour Players’ Awards ahead of last month’s BMW PGA Championship