The Rose Series winner tells Harriet Shephard how she feels about the upcoming venues for the AIG Women’s Open, why she idolises Dame Laura and how having her sister on her bag made this summer extra special.

Image: Getty Images - By Harriet Shephard

"For us to get the opportunity to showcase what we can do on these iconic courses, when the men have had that chance for so many years, is so special. It's what the fans want to see."

It was just after Round 2 of the AIG Women's Open, the first professional women’s event to ever be hosted at Royal Troon, that I managed to catch up with Ladies European Tour player Meghan MacLaren.

She’d already worked out that she hadn't made the cut going into the weekend, and was clearly battling with a mix of emotions.

On the one hand she'd had the time of her life on the iconic links course (despite the intense wind and rain lashing down), but on the other she was gutted to go home.

“I love it here, I'm so sad that I don't get to play two more rounds,” she said.

The week also brought the news that the next five AIG Women's Open will take place across the bastions of the men's game: Carnoustie, Muirfield, Walton Heath, St. Andrews and Royal Porthcawl.

Meghan described these developments as "hugely significant".

"I honestly can't believe how much has changed in the last six months,” she said.

“Even a year ago these conversations weren't even being had and now things are actually being done as well, it's not just one step forward actually, we are making huge strides and I hope we can continue like this."

MacLaren Troon

A popular blogger and eloquent presence on Twitter, Meghan has been pushing for these changes to happen for years.

"We always want progress to be quicker and there to be more of it, but we also have to be grateful about what has happened over the last ten years."

"People have their reasons for wanting to keep things the same, but once we're put infront of golf fans more,  then they will start to realise we're not so different from their favourite male golfers. As soon as you put a product infront of people they start to appreciate it."

Along with the upcoming venue announcements, these strides include the super media coverage that the AIG Women's Open received (not to mention the fact that it actually went ahead and became the biggest golf event in the UK this year) and that huge male players like Rose Series-founder Justin Rose have been Tweeting their support for the women;s game.

"I've wished that the men would support us more for a long time," she said.

"Then all of a sudden Justin Rose came on board and he's leading the way for other pros to do the same. Lee Westwood had his say about the Open not being televised that much and it's just building that awareness that the women's game is as important as the men's. It's nice to have the support."

Dame Laura Davies marked her 40th Women’s Open appearance at Royal Troon, her first being in 1980. I comment that the change must seem even more extreme to her.

"I know, sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be saying half the stuff I say as I've only been around for five minutes," she laughed.

"But when you speak to people like Laura and Trish Johnson, Karrie Webb and Annika Sörenstam, it makes you appreciate how far things have come."

Unafraid to speak her mind, popular with male golf fans (Meghan also has a column in Today's Golfer) and hugely skilled on the course, it's easy to see similarities between the Dame and the 26-year-old Newcastle United fan.

"She's long been one of my favourites and she's one of the few female golfers who every golf fan knows. She transcends women's sport, which is a big deal considering the era she played through. To still see her showing up and competing is amazing and I always watch her on the range because the way she strikes the ball is so good. She is such an inspiration to everyone who has grown up idolising her."

Meghan MacLaren AIG

Meghan isn’t ruling out making her career just as long either.

"I'd love to be here in 40 years. I love playing golf and I never want to do anything else. If Laura can do it and have that kind of skill for so long it pushes the rest of us to try and do the same."

The Wellingborough member has had a successful summer considering the unusual circumstances. She won the Rose Ladies Series event at Moor Park, and also penned the hauntingly beautiful new promo video for the LET and LPGA, Raise Our Game.

Voiced by Solheim Cup star Suzann Petterson it’s a total tear-jerker and a project that she's quite rightly very proud of: "It still gives me goosebumps even now. I'm really glad I got to do it," she said.

Lockdown has also meant she got to spend more time with her sister, who took up a new role and caddied for her during the Rose Series.

"I'm so close to my sister, I have her date of birth tattooed on my wrist. When I first started getting tattoos, she joked that I should get her name, and then I really did get her birthday she almost lost the plot,” she joked.

“It's been really cool to see her forge her own path and go to uni and get involved in football. But having her on the course with me, it's made these past few months really enjoyable. Being able to share all those moments with somebody is what it's all about, but if you ask her maybe she'll say she's sick of me!"

That's really not true is it Meghan?

With a packed schedule on the LET ahead, I'm sure 2020 has many more big moments to bring for Meghan and the women's game.

Women's golf is about to have its moment - READ MORE

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