TOUR School is widely acknowledged within golf as one of the worst places to be. It is a one week tournament where players play for their Tour card for the following year; play well and you will have a full schedule the following season, play poorly and you will be scrabbling around for invites and entries into lower tier tournaments. So, it’s safe to say that it is a pretty high-pressured environment. Luckily for Kelsey MacDonald, she seems to have mastered the art of it.

Last month, the 25-year-old from Nairn fought her way through Tour School in Morocco to secure her full card for the Ladies European Tour (LET) for 2016. It was the second consecutive year that MacDonald had done this, which is no mean feat by anyone’s standards although MacDonald admits that with so much riding on the result, it was a stressful few days of competition. “I’d been to Tour School once before and no one ever wants to go back so that was a huge pressure on me,” she says. “I’d competed in Dubai the week before and I’d played well so I was confident and I had to use that positive mindset and know that it was just about doing the same again. At Tour School, you’ve got to try and stay in the present and not let your mind wander but you do start to think of the future and I was starting to think, what if I don’t make it, what will I do?”

At the end of the 2015 season, MacDonald was frustratingly close to retaining her card by right, finishing in 85th position in the rankings with the top 80 being automatically awarded full cards. So, to safely negotiate the five rounds at Tour School and finish in fifth position was, the Scot admits, hugely satisfying. “It was a massive relief to qualify,” she says. “The previous week, I had been really happy with my performance but very disappointed that I hadn’t retained my card. But getting through meant that I could go home and really enjoy Christmas with my family and friends.”

The off-season in golf is a mere few weeks though and MacDonald heads to Turkey tomorrow for some practice in sunnier climes than Scotland provides before travelling to New Zealand for her first LET event of the year in mid-February. She feels like she is in good form and is keen to make her mark on the Tour right from the off. “Getting through Tour School last month definitely gives me a lot of confidence going into this season,” she says. “I was injured at the end of 2014 so I didn’t play my first tournament until the end of March last season whereas this year, I’ll be playing in just a few weeks time. That makes such a difference because I’ll be able to build some momentum, gather points and money and climb the order of merit. I want to have a good start to the season because I really don’t want to put myself in the position that I did last year of having to go to Tour School.”

MacDonald is just one of a sizable group of Scots who are flying the Saltire on the LET and the strength-in-depth of women’s golf in Scotland is, MacDonald says, something that drives her to keep improving. “It’s brilliant how well women’s golf in Scotland is doing and there’s nothing better than seeing the Scottish flag high up on the leaderboards,” she says. “Seeing Kylie (Walker) winning on the LET and the other girls doing well makes me believe that I can do that too. I think having so many Scottish players doing well pushes us all on because everyone wants to be the leading player in their country.”

And it is not just an improvement on the elite side of women’s golf that MacDonald has noticed a real change in recent years, it is all the way down to grass-roots. “There’s such a difference now compared to when I was a kid coming through in how many girls are playing golf in this country,” she says. “When I was younger, I was the only girl at my golf club and so I played with the boys but now, they have to have separate boys and girls groups because there’s so many girls playing which is fantastic.”

MacDonald has, to date, played in one major championship – the US Open in 2014 – and as the 2016 season kicks off, she has a few very specific targets in mind. “Long-term, I’d love to represent Europe in the Solheim Cup,” she says. “ Also, America is definitely somewhere I’d like to play and after finding my feet on the European Tour for a few years, I’d love to make that transition. As for this year, qualifying for another major is definitely my goal. I’ve still to play in a British Open so I’m really hoping I can achieve that. Getting to the US Open again would be brilliant but my biggest goal is the British Open – it’s the week after the Scottish Open at Dundonald so that’s the couple of weeks that I’m really aiming to perform well this year.”