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By Ian Cooper
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
ASK Muswell Hill Golf Club and England star Tara Watters for her favourite highlight of 2010 and her answer is simple – all of it.
It is easy to see why. In the space of a few short months 26-year-old Watters, currently ranked seventh lady from 467 nationally, won the south region championship in July, the Nations Cup with England in the same month and was a finalist in the England championships for the second year running.
Throw in her endless club success and an appearance for England at the coveted Home Internationals in September, and that makes Watters the most successful female golfer Muswell Hill and Middlesex have ever had – not bad for a player who didn’t even like the game when she first took to the course as a teenager.
“It is hard to pick my best memory, I’d say all of it!” says Watters (pictured centre), from Shakespeare Avenue in Muswell Hill. “The Home Internationals stand out, England didn’t do too well but it was still a great experience just because the standard was so high.
“But the biggest relief was winning the regional championships, simply because I’d got to the final in the four previous years, and lost all four times.
“I thought I might get to the semis this time but, to be honest, I was beginning to think it just wasn’t my competition. I kept getting to the final and not winning, it was really frustrating.
“It sounds strange but it was a bit of an anti-climax to win, I’d got so used to coming second it didn’t really sink in. It was a big relief though – hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Watters’ moment of glory came when she defeated Surrey’s Julia Brook one up in an exciting match in Bush Hill Park in Palmers Green, at the end of three days of competition where she had to battle through 67 other competitors to take the trophy for the first time.
She suffered disappointment in the England championships, finishing runner-up for the second successive year, this time to teenager Hayley Davis in Broadstone, Dorset.
But that was followed by the high of her Nations Cup win with England in Biarritz where, alongside Lucy Williams and Nikki Foster, Watters tasted victory after a tie with Sweden.
And then came the Home Internationals, where the north Londoner performed exceptionally to win her first foursomes match and her final singles match against Wales. England might have finished third, but the experience left Watters with lofty ambitions and dreams of turning professional.
More club success followed in October, when Watters led Muswell Hill to the 2010 Pearsons county championships, foursomes county championships and 5-a-side scratch championships.
It is all a far cry from her introduction to golf, when a teenage Watters struggled to find a passion in a largely male-dominated sport, but since her breakthrough she admits she has never looked back.
“I was about 13 when I took it up, my parents used to play and they brought me along,” remembers Watters.
“To be honest, I hated it! I thought it was full of old people and boys and none of my friends played, it wasn’t my thing.
“But there was a junior league so I was playing every week, and I kept on winning. The boys’ ego problems spurred me on to begin with, they used to try and hit the ball as hard as possible because they were playing a girl, so that made me determined to beat them.
“The younger you are when you take it up, the better. Now I devote as much time as I can to it and I’d like to play full-time. If I don’t go professional next year I don’t think I ever will.
“I’d like to play in the Home Internationals again – the squads are announced in January so hopefully I’ll be in it again.”