Eve Muirhead is no stranger to success. A bronze medal winner at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as part of Team GB, and the 2013 World Champion. A three-time Olympian, most recently in Pyeongchang in 2018, she is one of Perthshire’s most notable sports personalities.
She is also rather handy at golf.
With the Perth-born star back fit again after hip surgery, we caught up with Eve to talk life on the fairways and why the area where she grew up in is just par-fect for a visit.
Eve, what inspired you to get into golf?
It’s a little bit similar to my curling. My Dad golfed a lot and, back in the day, it worked out really well, as we curled in the winter and golfed in the summer. For me, that theme of sport was something that appealed to me a lot. Growing up in Blair Atholl, we lived like a 7 iron from the first tee. It was ideal, as you could just walk round and have 9 holes, or even play less. The summer-winter aspect of both sports appealed to me the most.
Where do you play?
I’m an honorary member at Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, so I was lucky to receive that accolade from them both after my successes. It was very nice of them.
I’m based in Stirling for my curling, but I try to get back up there and keep my handicap as much as I can although that can be very difficult. Since I had my surgery, I’ve not played a lot. I play up there, but I’m also lucky to be invited to be some nice golf events so play all over, really. My handicap is three, but going up! My lowest has been one, but I never made scratch as my curling kind of took over.
I played a lot of amateur events, with the highlight probably reaching the last-16 of the British Girls Championship, which was good. I played under-18s and under-21s golf too. For myself and my Dad, it used to be our long weekend away!
What are your favourite courses in Perthshire?
Blair Atholl and Pitlochry, obviously. And I do like Crieff. It’s where my Dad grew up, where he started golfing, so when I was younger he would take me there for a few holes. He knew the pro, David Murchie, pretty well. I always used to get my clubs from there. I like the course, it’s nice and scenic, and it means a lot with Dad having grown up there.
I like Blairgowrie, the Lansdowne too, but there are so many options in Perthshire. The Queen’s Course at Gleneagles is another favourite. Comrie is good too, I think I won the Perth & Kinross County Girls Championship there. Auchterarder is another favourite, I won a County Championship there too, so it’s a nice memory.
Do you prefer 9 holes or 18?
I do like a quick 9 holes. I’m a bit of a fair weather golfer as well! Eighteen holes can take a long time, so I enjoy 9 holes now with my time commitments. Blair Atholl is a 9-holer, so 9 holes has always been part of my life.
What are your favourite things to see and do in Perthshire?
Perthshire is lovely. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in Blair Atholl, as the countryside up there is stunning. There are walks up Glen Tilt, I love that part of the world. You can go over to Loch Tummel, then there is the Queen’s View. It’s just stunning the scenery, especially if you get nice weather. The mountain landscape in Highland Perthshire is gorgeous and there are even parts of the area I’ve probably not even seen because there is so much to do in Perthshire.
Female sport is a hot topic in the present day. You are trying to encourage people into curling, but what would you say to clubs to encourage more women and girls to get into golf in Perthshire?
It’s a difficult one and if I knew the answer everyone would jump at it! I think golf is becoming more cooler than it was us. You see younger ambassadors in the sport as well, like Georgia Hall with The R&A and Carly Booth for Scottish Golf, so that is great. When I was younger it wasn’t really that cool a thing to do, I’ll be honest about that, but today there seem to be more trends that appeal to girls in the sport, like fashion for example. I would encourage clubs to focus on 9 hole events as that may appeal to women more, taking less time away from work and their families, to get into the sport. Short and fun is the right way to go I think for women and girls.
The Solheim Cup comes to Perthshire this September. How excited are you for it and will you be attending at Gleneagles?
I’m excited for September. I’d love to go along, but I don’t know my schedule at the moment as our competition season kicks off at the start of September. If I can, I will be there, but that’s a bit of an unknown for me right now. I didn’t manage to get to the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014 as I was playing at an event in Sweden. It’s just unfortunate – the day job comes first! Fingers crossed, hopefully nothing clashes for September. It should be a great showcase to encourage women and girls into golf, too.
What is your favourite golf event?
The Solheim Cup is one of my favourite events, I do enjoy watching it. I love team events and the camaraderie, like the Ryder Cup also. And The Open is a fantastic event too.
Can you recommend some non-golf activities a group of women golfers should include on a golf break in Perthshire?
Perth has its attractions too, with some great bars and restaurants. Play golf in the morning and wine and dine in the afternoon!
You are back competing after your surgery and there have been changes to Team Muirhead in recent times. What are your hopes and immediate targets?
I’ve an event at the April and a couple of events in May, but the bigger picture would be to get to the Europeans next year, in November. Building an even bigger picture would be to go for another Winter Olympics, in Beijing in 2022. That will come around before we know it. I do have that motivation to get back up there again, after being knocked down the hill quite hard, with my injury and re-hab. The motivation is back now. We were obviously knocked as well, finishing fourth at the recent Winter Olympics, that’s never nice. I still really enjoy it and hopefully I can get building back up the ladder again.
And finally… St Johnstone, your team. Can they achieve top six this season?
I think we face a big challenge for the top six. Saints have been quite erratic this season, getting thumped some weeks and then coming out and winning five or six games in a row. I don’t get to many games, but I follow them as much as I can. The club have done so well over the last 10 years and hopefully they can keep things going.