29 Sep 2021 | Industry news |
Stars align for McLennan
by Martin Blake
Emily McLennan is the embodiment of the new aligned vision for golf in Australia.
For the past three years she has worked with the WPGA in Queensland in an operations role, having returned from a stint at college in the United States and a couple of years as a professional on the Symetra Tour.
But when Golf Australia’s Brad James came knocking, she answered the call. As a result of cooperation between Karen Lunn, chief executive of the WPGA and James, high performance manager for GA, she has moved into a new role in Golf Australia’s Melbourne headquarters.
Queenslander McLennan will fill in as female pathway manager in the temporary absence of Stacey Peters because of maternity leave, and when Peters returns to her role next year,
McLennan will take up an operations role in the high performance department. It requires a move to Melbourne from Brisbane, but the 27-year-old is upbeat.
“I’m really excited,” she said today. “I’ve come from a small organisation where there’s not a lot of room for continued development, but there are so many opportunities at Golf Australia. I’m keen to work with the guys, and I have a great relationship with Stacey, so overall I’m looking forward to the change.
“I’ll be moving to Melbourne in two-and-a-half weeks and there are some mixed emotions being from the Gold Coast, and I’m not looking forward to the weather, but I think the AGC (Australian Golf Centre) will perk me up!’’
McLennan has been in and around golf for most of her life, starting as a five-year-old in the little Gold Coast hinterland town of Jimboomba where she happened to attend a golf clinic.
The coach for the day was Col Swatton, then working with young players like Jason Day at The Hills school, and she was hooked.
“My Dad played here and there; Mum had no interest, but being from more of a country school we were introduced to most sports quite young. My parents said I could go to lessons, and it was $5 a lesson at Hills, so they palmed me off for a couple of hours!’’
She became a fine player in her own right, Queensland junior player of the year and a regular at the Interstate series, as well as representing Australia at a British junior teams even when she was 15, then earning a golf scholarship to the University of Tennessee. She counts those four years as the highlight of her golfing career.
She graduated from college in 2016 as an academic All-American and was also inducted into the prestigious Kappa Tau Alpha Society for Mass Communication and Journalism.
Beyond that, she turned professional and 18 difficult months on the secondary Symetra Tour in the US, soon finding that the life as a touring pro was not for her. “I realised pretty quickly that the lifestyle wasn’t for me. I was kind of in over my head.
“It’s difficult to make money on Symetra when you’ve invested so much in yourself. Coming from college, you were surrounded by teammates and friends who you travelled with, then going into the tour, you have your friends and it’s competitive, but it’s lonely. That’s what I found.
“You don’t have teammates and camaraderie. I struggled with that. I loved the competition but it’s easy to get into your own head and stay there, when you don’t have people to bring you out of it.”
Emily McLennan has found her niche in administration and high performance, and of course, it was always going to be in golf. “Golf’s always been a comfort,” she said. “It’s been part of my life for so long. So it was an easy transition to working in golf because I know the game so well.’’
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