Ahead of a busy summer of activity on and off the fairways, we caught up with Dunkeld native and BBC Golf Presenter Eilidh Barbour on all things golf, Perthshire and much more. Read our exclusive Q&A…
How did you get into golf in Perthshire?
EB: “I got into golf through my parents, but mostly my mum. My dad always played but my mum took it up when I was probably around 15 or so and I dabbled with learning it a bit then. We played a bit on family holidays as well with my brother also picking the game up at the same time, but I didn’t really take it seriously at all until much later. After high school I travelled for a year, then went to uni, then I was abroad again for a year and then with focussing more on work and trying to break into the broadcasting industry, golf kind of took a back seat. I was also playing football more regularly so it’s really only over the last year-and-a-half that I’ve properly embraced the game and had the time to enjoy it and work on it. I think my temperament is more suited to it now I’m a bit older too!”
How much did you enjoy playing golf with your family growing up, and to this day?
EB: “I always enjoyed playing with my family and it’s what I love about golf the most. The four of us are all completely different players at completely different stages of the game yet we can play together which is great. I play with my mum a lot as she has free time during the week which suits my schedule perfectly!”
What are the benefits of family golf, given clubs in Perthshire are currently offering free golf for under-18s when accompanied by an adult?
EB: “The benefits of family golf are huge. It’s such a great way to spend time with each other. There are no everyday distractions, it’s just a relaxed way of being with each other. And it’s good fun –especially when you win the bragging rights!”
What is your favourite course(s) in Perthshire?
EB: “Perthshire has so many stunning courses. I’m a member at Blairgowrie and I love it, so I would have to put Rosemount on the list and also the Wee Course as one of the best 9-hole courses I’ve ever played. I’ve played a lot at Pitlochry and, once you get up that hill over the first couple of holes, it’s beautiful.”
What other Perthshire activities and attractions do you enjoy?
EB: “I love walking about in the countryside. Whether it’s just a walk up and around some of the lochs or up one of the nearby hills and mountains. I love just getting out of the city and breathing in the fresh air. And if it’s hot enough, there are plenty of rivers to swim in. Rumbling Bridge was a regular spot in my childhood – great rocks to jump from!”
Have you tried kayaking or rafting?
EB: “I used to work for Nae Limits, an outdoor activity company, after I graduated from Uni. It was great fun and I would get to assist on the canyoning, cliff jumping and sometimes rafting trips. The cliff jumping was definitely my favourite – I love the feeling of falling before hitting the water.”
How often do you return to Perthshire?
EB: “I go back fairly regularly with my parents still living there. I still have friends who live there as well who I go back to visit, and then there’s golf which I try to get back and play at least once a week if I can. And occasionally I get lucky with my work schedule and get a St Johnstone game or two which is nice!”
Give us an insight into your summer work – Gullane and Carnoustie?
EB: “I’ve had a really relaxing summer this year! After the BMW PGA at Wentworth, I’ve had a month off and have been travelling the west coast of America. It’s great to get an extended break half way through the year. I get back a couple of days before the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane which will be my return to a busy spell of golf for the BBC, which also includes The Open at Carnoustie, golf at the European Games (at Gleneagles) and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. During all of that, the football season kicks off again and I’ll be back doing my BT Sport reporting in Scotland and BBC Sport for the Premier League and Women’s Super League south of the border. Then there’s the small matter of what promises to be a sensational Ryder Cup in the autumn!”
Who is your tip for The Open?
EB: “The Open is always tough to pick. Especially somewhere like Carnoustie, which can play so tough and also given the weather can change in an instant. But, because you’ve asked me, I’m going to pluck a name out of the long list of contenders and say Justin Rose. Consistently, he is there week-to-week and a second Major is long overdue, maybe Carnoustie will be his time to hold the Claret Jug.”
How great is it to work in a sport you clearly love?
EB: “I’m hugely lucky to have been given this opportunity and I really do treasure it. Hopefully my love of the game comes across and I try and deliver the best I can to hold on to the position I’ve been given. It’s such an honour and to present The Masters from Augusta was the biggest moment of my career so far, it was really special. I owe so many thanks to so many people for helping me along the way and giving me the chance to get to this point. I also get to work with a brilliant group of talented people from my fellow presenters and commentators to those who do all the hard work behind the scenes making it all happen. It’s a great team to be part of.”