Meet Abigail May

Catherine Lawson

Blazing a trail in the world of golf as a young woman is no mean feat as 16-year-old Abigail May can confirm. Sacrifices, relentless focus, determination and the challenge of juggling different commitments is all part of the process and, in Abigail’s case, it’s paying off as she moves confidently in the direction of her dreams. Living in St Andrews, the birthplace of golf, Abigail is surrounded by the rich history of the sport and immersed in traditions which demand excellence and require grit to succeed. I caught up with Abigail to find out about her inspirational golfing journey and what it’s like to be a member of the Scotland team at the age of 16.

Let’s start with some facts:
Handicap:
1.6
Competitions won:
St Regulus Ladies Club Champion 2023 (age 15)
East of Scotland Girls – Stephen Gallagher Foundation Trophy – Winner 2023 (age 15)
Paul Kirkcaldy Trophy Champion 2020 (age 12) – 2021 (age 13)
Rankings:
2nd in U16 in Scotland
9th in 18 & under in Scotland
Interesting courses played:
Old Course, St Andrews – it’s the dream course and it has a very historic presence. It gives me the chills every time I play it.
Kingsbarns – very nice views and an amazing golf course
Wentworth Golf Club – it was very posh and had lots of famous people walking around.
Renaissance Golf Club – very nice place with nice people and it’s very posh!
Coaches I’ve worked with:
The coach I work with now is Scott Wilson, who works at St Andrews Links.
My first proper coach was Spencer Henderson at Scottish Golf, who coaches the Men’s National Performance Team.
I’ve worked with the previous Girls’ National Performance Coach, Kate McNicoll, but only for a short period of time before she decided to take a step back from her coaching.
Golfing icon:
Rory McIlroy – he’s really inspirational and I enjoy watching what he’s going to do next.

And now for some more in depth questions and answers:

Where and when did your love of golf begin?

My love for golf started when I used to attend SALJGA (St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association) golf lessons with all my friends from the age of five. We used to love all the coaches and volunteers who used to play games with us every week, so we always had a fun time.

What sacrifices have you had to make to get to this level?
I’ve made huge sacrifices socially and friendship wise to progress my game and improve my performance – I’ve always chosen to put golf first. My family would say I’m determined and head strong in that sense because I want to be the very best I can be.

What have been some of your proudest achievements to date?
One of my proudest achievements was winning the St Regulus Ladies Club Championship in my first time playing in the event. Another achievement I am proud of is getting selected for the Scottish team, for the 2024 Quadrangular event that look place at Belleisle Golf Club against Ireland, Wales and the Netherlands.

As a St Regulus Ladies Golf Club champion (one of the youngest ever to win the ladies club championship), how have you been supported by the club to achieve your golfing ambitions?
St Regulus are always very supportive. They invite me to some of the ladies’ competitions and to help with some of the younger juniors on training nights. I also receive funds from the club that I put towards entry fees for events throughout the year. St Regulus also follow me on social media, and they always leave lovely comments every time I post updates on how I’ve done at an event or any new achievements.

You’re currently part of the Scotland under 18 National Performance Squad – tell us about your training schedule and what you do to stay at the top of your game?
Being a member of the Scotland team, we usually meet once a month and stay somewhere for the weekend throughout the winter. We also get one week of warm weather training in Spain with the girls’ and boys’ teams together. To stay on top of my game I have to go to the gym regularly and follow a nutritious eating plan. I normally go down to the range every day and practice for a couple of hours and sometimes I even go onto the same small junior course to practice my short game. During my exam time I’ll usually go down three times a week and I try to get a game of golf in as well with my dad or grandad.

How do you balance the demands and challenges of golf with your studies?
I find balancing golf, the gym workouts I need to do to stay fit and support my game, and my school work very difficult. It’s hard to manage but I do always make the time. Normally when I’m travelling I bring my study books with me. I study in my free time or sometimes I try to arrange study times with my tutor.

What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the ladies’ game right now?
I don’t think there are many challenges within the ladies’ game at competitive level, but I personally disagree with separate golf clubs for men and women because it makes it much harder for women and men to play against each other.

What’s next for you?
After finishing school, I’m hoping to attend university in America and progress my golf with a structured team around me. I’m looking forward to training in warmer weather with less rain than there is in Scotland. I find the prospect of going and studying abroad exciting as I know I’m going to meet so many new people who are going to help me improve in many ways.

What advice would you give any young woman starting out in the world of golf?
Keep setting realistic targets for yourself to help yourself improve and make sure you have fun along the way.