Finding harmony between golf and One Direction — Celine Boutier winning words from Evian — Must-click women’s golf links

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Aug. 3, 2023

Happy Golf Thursday, friends! We are 50 days away from the Solheim Cup in Spain, and for the next couple of weeks the LPGA will be galavanting through the UK as the cup teams solidify. This week, the players are in Scotland for the FREED Group Scottish Open and things have been a bit…chaotic to say the least.

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Luckily for DK, her bag issue can go unresolved for a bit longer since she’s not competing this week. As for other 145 players teeing it up at Dundonald — they are in for a gusty weekend of golf and cool temperatures. With round one already underway, it’ll be interesting to see which players prevail, especially with the AIG Women’s Open, the final major of the season, just a week away.

And while the tour is in the UK for a bit, I want to finally address something that’s been on my mind for quite some time now. A couple weeks ago, I came across a quick read by Jordan Perez, a freelance writer that mainly focuses on the amatuer side of things in golf. I’m a huge fan of her work for many reasons, one being that she is consistently shedding light on young golfers, and two because she often places things in a broader context. Golf journalism is a tricky business, and it is quite niche, so any time someone is able to take a step back and refocus things so that it can potentially reach a wider cast of people is incredibly special.

That being said, Perez recently wrote a piece about her experience at the Taylor Swift Eras Tour concert she went to on No Laying Up. It was an unexpected piece, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, not because I’m a die hard Swiftie but because I understood her point of hearing a song or an album and having it relate so scarily close to my feelings — as if an artist plucked my brain and wrote lyrics specifically for me. I remeber my silly little fangirl moments in middle school and high school, and how I actually failed my learner’s permit test the day Zayn Malik left One Direction (I’m not joking, I cried so hard I couldn’t even see the test in front of me).

This piece inspired me on on this Golf Thursday to dig deep into my One Direction fangirl era and finally blend two parts of my identity — the golf girl and the fan girl.

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By the time I was 11, I was already eight years into my golf journey, five years playing competitively, and just beginning my strong commitment to the emerging boy band from the UK. The only thing playing on my iPod Nano were 1D songs on repeat on the range.

Once I hit high school, my obsession with golf and One Direction had increased ten-fold. My friends thought it was so strange that I was into golf. They never made fun explicitly, but they were clear in letting me know that they thought it was weird that I liked it so much.

In the summer of 2013, at the pinnacle of the band’s success (if you ask me), I was invited to see One Direction at Madison Square Garden by a friend from summer camp. It was her birthday and her parents had gotten her four tickets to see the boys with meet and greet passes. I was positively floored when she asked me to go with her to see our favorite band. They were in the middle of touring across the globe for their first arena tour, promoting their movie that came out later that year, they had been breaking record after record across platforms, it was historic times, and I was finally able to witness it all in the flesh…or so I thought. Imagine my anguish when I aksed my parents for permission and they told me no because I had tryouts for my high school golf team that same weekend. Needless to say, frosty temperatures had reached our household in the middle of August.

I was frustrated that once again, golf had seemingly taken away another experience with my friends from me. I deleted Instagram off my phone just so I wasn’t tempted to see the photos they had posted from the meet and greet. For so long it seemed like these two parts of my identity couldn’t coexist, and as silly as it may seem, it was hard finding harmony between the two. I had friends that weren’t quite accepting of the sport that I loved, and I didn’t have a solid group of girl golf friends to play and swoon over these boys with. As a teenage girl, it was quite the conundrum.

But in some unique turn of events, it was like the Cosmos had heard my prayers, and the collab of the century had shook up the universe at the 2015 Masters.

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 08: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits alongside his caddie Niall Horan of the band One Direction during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Niall from One Direction and fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy, who was coming off his storm of wins in the 2014 season, had debuted their friendship on golf’s biggest stage and I nearly died. For the first time in my young life, my worlds were colliding and I was estatic about it. I’ll admit I have always been and will always be a Harry Styles girl — but Niall at the 2015 Masters will forever have a special place in my heart.

Scratch that — Niall Horan will always have a place in my heart because of the way he champions for young girls and women in golf.

“Whatever young girls are into is usually doing quite well – whether it be fashion, sport, or music. They are a powerful group historically and even more so now. I saw it with the band and now with my music – when girls get passionate about something, they really give everything to it.”

Niall Horan on the buying power and cultural impact that girls and women have.

Since the band’s split in 2015, Niall has been way more public about his life than his former bandmates, especially when it comes to his relationship with golf. Like us, he’s addicted, and when that bug bites you the side effects never go away. (Editor’s note: CAN CONFIRM.)

But he doesn’t just showcase his love for the game by using his fame to play these crazy courses. He has demonstrated that he wants golf to grow. In addition to his friendship with McIlroy, Horan has partnered with other players like Justin Rose and Leona Macguire to work towards gender equality in the game.

Macguire is signed to Horan’s Modest! Golf talent agency and management group, which presented the The ISPS Handa World Invitational in 2021. The ISPS is a unique mixed golf event where men and women play for the same prize money — the year Horan and Modest! sponsored the event the purse totaled $2.35 million, which was evenly split between the winners.

In recent months, Horan was spotted at the ANWA, where he surprised the players with a special concert before the final round.

He has also teamed up with one of golf’s governing bodies, the R&A, as an ambassador for a new initiative. The initiative is focused on how to attract new people to the sport and is targeted specifically at those who already had or have an active interest in sporting activity but not necessarily in golf.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen more pop culture figures interact more and more in and with the golf space. I think prior to 2020, most non-golf celebs were other athletes who also liked the game, but we’re beginning to see artists, musicians, rappers, and other popular cultural figures showcase their interests. But what’s so wonderful about what Niall is doing is that he is actually putting his money where is mouth is, and creating opportunities. He’s recognized the impact that he and One Direction has had on a generation of young women and he’s exposing them to something they may have never even spared a glance.

It makes my fangirl heart sing, to see someone that I’ve followed so closely for so much of my life share an interest in something that I like beyond his own music. It’s validating, it’s empowering, and it’s confirming that for all those years of imbalance between two big pieces of me, that they can function in unity. And what a feeling that is.

This week at women’s golf

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This week the LPGA is in Scotland for the Women’s Scottish Open here’s what you need to know about the tournament:

Five things to know about the FREED GROUP Women’s Scottish Open

Field Breakdown for the FGWSO

How to watch the 2023 FREED GROUP Women’s Scottish Open pres. by Trust Golf

Tour returns to the Home of Golf with Annual Trip to Scotland

Who will win in Scotland? The secret lies in looking closely at previous champions

Making moves: Celine Boutier creates history at the Amundi Evian Championship

LPGA*USGA Girls Golf impacts one million girls worldwide

Nelly Korda returns to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings

Links about Evian

Her head was still in the clouds, and so were Celine Boutier’s clubs prior to the Women’s Scottish Open

Celine Boutier pulls off dream win at the Amundi Evian Championship, sums it up in 10 heartfelt words

What happened with Carlota Ciganda’s Friday round DQ?

LET News

Ayaka Furue is pleased to be back in Scotland this week ready to defend her title

Gemma Dryburgh’s hoping for success on home soil

Entries for the 2023 Lalla Aicha Qualifying School for the 2024 season are now live

Epson Tour News

Jenny Bae’s rapid rise on the Epson Tour

Consistency is key for Auston Kim

NCAA/Amateur News

Summer events for amatuers are full swing, catch up here

Other News

The 2024 Olympics are a year away. Here are the golfers who would be playing in Paris if the games were today

Five at The IX: France’s own Celine Boutier wins at Evian

Q. So I remember right before the Olympics in Tokyo, when some people were reluctant to go, you said you would go and represent your country even if you had to go by boat. So what it means for you to win in France in front of the French people and in front of your fans?

CELINE BOUTIER: It’s everything. Like I said, it’s definitely like the biggest dream of mine. If I was going to win one tournament it had to be Evian. Yeah, I just really did not expect it to be this week.

But I just feel like so grateful to be able to share it with my family and with all the French spectators. They were amazing all week. Such a great amount of support and positive energy and definitely fed off the crowd a little bit.

Yeah, I just feel super grateful to be able to share it with the French golf community.

Q. Just I don’t know if you can describe that walk up 18 knowing you had to putt still, but you had it in the bag and the emotions and people yelling your name and things like that.

CELINE BOUTIER: Yeah, I was definitely trying to take it in and enjoy it. I felt a little bit overwhelmed as well just hearing their chants and my name and just them being so happy. I just feel like I was definitely like borderline going to cry, but like I tried to focus on my last two-putt.

Yeah, it’s just been an amazing week.

Q. You’ve played some really solid golf. Got a win earlier this year. To have a second title in a few months now, what does that tell you about what you’re doing in your game that’s working so well for you, especially with another major in a couple weeks?

CELINE BOUTIER: Yeah, it’s just unbelievable that I get to have my first major win at home, I mean, in France. I could not have scripted it better. I feel like it’s just so perfect that it’s hard to believe that it’s true.

I’m just so happy and I’m so, so grateful.

Q. First of all, it felt like there was a nation behind you obviously this week. How did that impact your nerves, especially on the first tee? I was out there and there were spectators everywhere. How nervous were you on the first tee today, and how did that change throughout the day as you extended your lead?

CELINE BOUTIER: Yeah, definitely very nervous going into the first tee, but I tried to frame it in a positive way. I feel like I’ve played this tournament seven times already and I have never been able to handle the pressure well.

I feel like this week was definitely like something that was a goal of mine. I want to handle the pressure better. I definitely felt like it was a little bit better after the first shot really.

I just like once I started walking on the course definitely like felt a little bit more calm. I feel like the conditions were so tough that it really made me have to focus on the game rather than anything else.

That really helped me keep going throughout the round.

Q. This has been a banner year for you, Celine. You became the winningest player in French history at DriveOn and you are now the first French player to win here. What does this mean to you, and to be one of the biggest role models here for French golf?

CELINE BOUTIER: I mean, it’s really not things I think about on my daily life. I definitely feel like it’s hard to really realize that I have such — that I would have any kind of impact in French golf or in France at all.

I’m just so grateful to be able to have this gift of golf I guess and just to be able to hopefully inspire more French players to turn pro and try to play on the same stage.

I just feel, yeah, like it’s been an amazing ride. Hopefully it’s not the end. (Laughter.)

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Written by Addie Parker