European Golf Challenge managing director Laura McDonald shares her thoughts on working in the golf industry, what it’s like to work at some of the best golf courses in the world, and who would be in her dream fourball
When it comes to dream jobs, Laura McDonald has got it just about perfect. As managing director of European Golf Challenge she manages and helps to host golf events around the UK, across Europe and in the United States from her base in Newcastle with a team which grows to more than 20 each summer. An avid golfer as a teenager, her background in marketing and events in the hospitality industry and her love of golf combined nine years ago when she started the business and it’s been a great journey so far…
With so many events through the summer, how do you fit golf in?
I spend pretty much every day of the golf season at the best clubs so I wish I had more chances to play. I love to play when I can and it tends to tie in with work so I’m lucky enough to play some of the best courses in the world when I do get my clubs out. I’m around an 18 handicapper at the minute and I love the social side of the game.
How did you get into golf?
My friends played when we were younger and I picked it up when I was 12. I wasn’t a natural at all but I used to spend hours on the driving range at Parklands in Gosforth and got better as I got older. I was at the golf club all the time until I went off to university, fell out of it a little bit then picked it back up as I started the business in 2009.
Which is your favourite course in the North East?
I love Close House and Rockliffe Hall. I find both tough but they’re beautiful venues and I love going back to them.
And further afield?
I’ve played so many amazing courses but one that really stands out is Bayonne Golf Club in New Jersey. It has the most spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and it’s just unbelievable.
What’s your best ever round?
I’ve shot 85 before, which still stands out as a really good round. I was invited to the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Atlantic City last year, one of the biggest pro ams in America, and it was amazing to play alongside some of the best female golfers in the world. I’d definitely take that over a low score.
Which is your favourite golfing memory?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the best courses in the world in the last few years with the business – there are far too many to list them all.
What about embarrassing moments?
There are far too many of those too! I wasn’t a natural when I started so I can remember plenty of air shots from those early days.
Do you have any superstitions?
Nothing that has stuck though I’ve seen some bizarre things at the events I’ve worked on – there are a lot of different wiggles out there!
What are your strengths on the course?
I’m pretty solid with my irons, so I’ll say those.
And your weaknesses?
Definitely my short game. I’ve earned the nickname ‘the hammer’ so I need to work on having a lighter touch around the greens. I need some lessons and to put some time into practising I think.
Which is your favourite club?
My six iron.
Who is your best golfing friend?
I grew up with Nicky Hunter and we spent loads of time together at Parklands, where she was a professional for a while.
Do you play any other sports? Does it help your golf?
I ski every winter and love the adrenaline of it, though it doesn’t do much for my golf.
Who is your favourite tour player?
Martin Kaymer is a favourite but if I had to pick one it would have to be Sergio Garcia. He’s great to watch and comes across as such a lovely guy.
Which event do you enjoy the most?
I got to go to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and it was the most amazing experience.
Who do you admire?
I take a lot of inspiration from business people like Sir Richard Branson and Karen Brady, who have started with very little and created something incredible.
Who is in your dream fourball?
Martin Luther King as he’s such an important figure; Donald Trump because I’d like to see what he’s really like and if his golf game is as good as he says it is; and Anna Wintour as fashion is my biggest passion outside of golf.
If I could offer you the chance to work on your dream event or a scratch handicap, which would you take?
I’m much more of a social golfer so I’d pick working with Michael Jordan on his three-day event in Las Vegas, which looks like the greatest golf event outside the Ryder Cup.