Kayleigh Singer is even happier now than when she heard she would be carry boarding at The Ryder Cup. One of her favourite players Stephen Gallacher will also be on the course as part of Team Europe.
After hearing the news of Stephen Gallacher's selection for captain Paul McGinley's team yesterday, she said: “I think it's amazing that Stephen Gallacher has been picked for The Ryder Cup. I had my fingers crossed all morning at work to be told he got picked! He totally deserves it – the opportunities his foundation has given to children is outstanding.”
The 17 year-old from South Queensferry is no stranger to helping youngsters herself, having just started a modern apprenticeship with the City of Edinburgh Council as an early years’ children’s practitioner.
She said: “When this job came up, I thought this is the ideal opportunity. I love working with kids and after two years I should achieve SVQ level 3.”
Kayleigh volunteers on Friday nights with the Anchor Boys in South Queensferry, an organisation for primary one age boys where she helps out with games, crafts, and story reading. She is also a cadet fire fighter at Edinburgh Airport and earned a black belt in karate years ago.
It is a wonder she ever has time to golf. Unsurprisingly she has even found a way to help others through that too, recently raising over £1500 for Marie Curie by playing 72 holes in 13 hours with 14 year-old Clare Forrester, the only other junior girl at Dundas Parks Golf Club.
However, she does have a competitive as well as a compassionate side, which is why she joined the Scottish Golf Development Centre programme at Kingsfield Golf Centre.
“Last year my handicap was stuck at 23 and the development centre coaching helped me get down to 17.6. I was struggling with my irons and my coach David Patrick really helped me with that and with my short game, so my putting has improved quite a bit too.
“It was all girls from Midlothian in my group so it was lovely meeting new friends to share the experience with girls of my age and I have since played with a few of them for East of Scotland under 18s in competitions. As there are only two girls at my club, it was good to meet others who share the love and passion for the sport. It was all just great fun.
“I was around 13 when I started playing. Dad just took me up to the golf course. I didn’t really get into it until I played in competitions. Ever since I started playing in the ladies’ section, I’ve come on so much. I love the chat!”
Kayleigh nominated her dad Colin to carry the scoreboard with her at Gleneagles because he drives her about everywhere, supports her, and because he got her into sport in the first place.
Colin said: “I take her to all her competitions around the east. I’m always part of everything. I was more nervous waiting for her exam results than she was!
Colin, who is a firefighter at Edinburgh Airport, used to play golf himself, but he says: “I gave up – I was absolutely terrible. I’ve devoted my time to Kayleigh and walk around with her when she’s not had anyone to play with. I love golf, love watching it, but just absolutely hopeless at playing it!
“Kayleigh started her coaching at Kingsfield with Jane Connachan. She went from a handicap of 36 to finishing last season at 23, then reduced that to 17.6 during the winter with Midlothian girls.
“She loved the Development Centre coaching programme and met a lot of new people. David Patrick was a great coach and great with the kids. He’s had a big bearing on lowering her handicap and she’s now playing in Ladies competitions at Dundas Parks.”
Naturally the ladies at the club were among the first to hear about Kayleigh being selected to carry board.
She said: “I told the ladies at the club about going to The Ryder Cup and they’re all jealous. It’s the biggest competitive event – everyone knows about it, it’s so popular. It’s just amazing to be a part of and I am really looking forward to it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I never thought I’d get to go and help out. I’m so excited.”
Devoted dad Colin, as always, shares his daughter’s enthusiasm.
“I think Kayleigh would say she was most looking forward to seeing Stephen Gallacher and Rory McIlroy – a great character, great for the game. They’re all decent guys and Stephen Gallacher puts so much back in at a local level. Talented guys but they don’t forget their roots.
“Carry boarding at The Ryder Cup is an opportunity of a lifetime – all my friends and I think it’s amazing. You couldn’t imagine that’s what you’d be doing in your own country.”