Posted: 6 months ago

From Strangford Lough to Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Molly’s golf journey is fast flowing, aided by Mary Peters Trust   

EVERY MONTH, A YOUNG MARY PETERS TRUST ATHLETE SPELLS OUT HOW THE CHARITY IS AIDING THE PURSUIT OF THEIR SPORTING DREAMS

Sport:   Golf  

Age:   19 

Current study/work: undergraduate at South Dakota State University 

Home:   Newtownards 

Club:  Clandeboye Golf Club 

Mary Peters Trust athlete: since 2018 

Achievement I’m most proud of: winning ‘Ulster Girls’ (U18s) in 2021 age 17 and securing a golf scholarship in America 

What is your current goal: to potentially turn Pro, but if not to excel in and enjoy my sport 

NINETEEN-year-old Molly O’Hara is having the time of her golfing life in South Dakota. Following her A Levels at Rockport School, the Newtownards girl has embarked on a four-year golf scholarship at Mid-West based South Dakota State University.  

The college is based about an hour away from South Dakota city Sioux Falls in the small but vibrant town of Brookings. In a way it’s a home from home as Brookings is very similar in size to Molly’s hometown of Newtownards and the Clandeboye Golf Club member is settling in very comfortably. 

It’s hard work though with early starts at 6.00am three times a week for gym work, then academic studies each morning following by golf. Often there is more golf in the early evenings as well as additional workouts such as ‘hot yoga’. “This is when we sweat a lot, but it’s great fun,” says Molly. “My days are full-on, so not much time to feel homesick which is a good thing. Though I am of course really looking forward to coming home for Christmas.” 

In her first year Molly is majoring in Business Economics but as the initial two years of her degree are general, she may decide to change her subject major in the future.  

“It’s so friendly at the college and you meet fellow students and sportspeople from all over the world. The golf element is very competitive, and results driven, so I need to always be on top of my game. It’s lovely to share accommodation with a different sports person. My roommate Birna plays soccer and is from Iceland and it’s great to get a different perspective and have fun socially with the soccer girls as well as my fellow golfers.” 

Molly’s golf prowess started when she was seven. Younger brother Harry was showing great promise at only age two and their dad Ray decided to resurrect his own game and take Harry to the local driving range. 

“I was focused on Irish Dancing at the time which couldn’t be more different, but decided I wanted to go to the driving range as well. I really wanted to play along with my brother Harry. Mind you I wasn’t very good back then, so I took lessons and just kept at it. 

“My first juvenile competition was at Clandeboye Golf Club, which is our home club. I was nine and when I discovered I was the only girl taking park I refused to play, but fortunately Dad made me take part and I’ve never looked back. We always have a laugh recalling how long it took me to get round the course that day. It was about 6 hours I’m told.” 

Molly got her first handicap aged 10 and by the time she was 16 it was down to scratch. At 17 (in 2021) Molly won the Ulster Girls (U18s) competition at Bangor Golf Club – one of her proudest moments. In August 2022 Molly played in the ‘British Girls’ at Carnoustie, Scotland competing against all the top young females from across the British Isles and she was thrilled to make the cut.  

A Mary Peters Trust supported athlete since 2018, Molly is very thankful for all the support as golf equipment, travel to tournaments and coaching sessions are hugely expensive.  

In 2021, Molly was part of both Ulster Girl’s and Ulster Women’s teams along with fellow MPT golfers Beth Coulter, Rebecca Gardiner and Katie Poots.  

“It really was a ‘Dream Team’ and extra special to do ‘the Double,’ says Molly. “We won the Golf Ireland Women’s Interprovincial Championship (at Shannon Golf Club) and the equivalent Girl’s Interprovincial at Mount Wolseley.  It all came down to my match at the Women’s event, so it was very exciting. Great memories indeed. 

“All four of us are backed by the Mary Peters Trust and each of us are now studying and playing golf at colleges in the States.”  

With both Molly and brother Harry playing golf at representative levels their parents Shelly and Ray are totally involved and both love every minute of it. “Mum and dad have done so much for both of us and it’s brilliant that all four of us are golf fanatics.” 

Reflecting on her brother’s golf Molly says: “Harry is a really good player and is very dedicated to the game. In fact, now he’s even better than me – and he’s only 14. It’s brilliant that we can support each other and follow each other’s golfing careers.” 

Molly with Lady Mary Peters and John Harkin, CEO of Alchemy Technologies, podium partner of the Mary Peters Trust