English golfer Nicola Slater hopes to tee up a bright future in the sport after joining the University's renowned golf scholarship programme.
The 18-year-old star – who has won a number of prestigious titles this year – will work with High Performance Coach Dean Robertson at the University’s on-campus facilities – which include a par three golf course, short game practice areas, artificial putting green, and driving range.
Nicola, who is studying a four-year Sports Studies course, will also benefit from a fantastic package of support at Stirling, including winter training camps, international competition and funding.
“I am really pleased to have joined the golf programme at Stirling,” Nicola said. “I was in the golf academy at Balby Carr College in Doncaster and had applied to a few different universities.
“I was always going to do a sports course – but wanted to combine it with my golf. I came to look around Stirling and learned lots about the University and the golf coaching here. There is a really good standard here – with players like Hazel MacGarvie and Chloe Goadby – and it’s nice to compete against them, as well as having them as your teammates.
“Before I decided upon Stirling, Dean came to watch me play at a number of competitions in England. I appreciated that he made the effort to come and watch me.”
Explaining how her passion for golf began at an early age, Nicola said: “My dad played golf and took me along with him when I was about seven years old. I had quite a natural talent for the sport – the way I went about it, the way I held the club, the way I was swinging.
“But before I went out on the course, my dad used to make me practice my swing in the living room – telling me that the ball always gets in the way of a good swing. I practiced so much that I wore a divot in my mum’s carpet. They now have wooden floors!”
Nicola has enjoyed a successful year, winning the English Women’s Matchplay at Kirby Muxloe Golf Club, Leicestershire, in July; finishing fourth at the English Women’s Closed Strokeplay at Wilmslow Golf Club, Cheshire, in August; and shooting 10 under par – the joint course record – at the Old Course in St Andrews in May.
In addition, she won the Stirling International event on the Torrance Course at the Fairmont in St Andrews and competed at the Yale Intercollegiate Invitational at New Haven, Connecticut. In January, she will travel to Dubai with fellow Stirling golfers for a two-week winter training camp.
Nicola admits she dreams of turning professional in the sport – but feels that her Sports Studies degree gives her an alternative option too.
She said: “I am still unsure what route I’ll head down – I just want to see where I naturally end up. I don’t want to pin my hopes on going professional – although, it would be a dream if I could.
“I want to be realistic and having a backup is important to me. This gives me the opportunity to work on a good golf programme, with a routine to follow, but allows me to get a degree too.
“I feel that the next four years will give me the chance to decide what I want to do. Even if I don’t go professional, I think I will try and stay within golf in some way.”
Dean Robertson, High Performance Golf Coach at Stirling, said: “I am delighted to welcome Nicola on to our international golf scholarship programme.
“The programme gives students the chance to train at a high level and compete around the world, while benefitting from sports science, psychology and strength and conditioning support.
“I look forward to working with Nicola over the next four years and am excited to see what she can achieve.”