SOME 18-year-olds might take a gap year before university.
They will travel to a few places around the globe before further education and the real world await them.
For Lancashire’s Emily Taylor however, that gap year dream is a sporting reality.
She will stand on the first tee at the Royal Pines Resort in Queensland, Australia about to unleash her first drive in professional golf at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters on Friday.
Alongside her in the stellar field will be some of the greats of the game including England’s Laura Davies and Korean world top 10 players Jiyai Shin and So Yeon Ryu.
And Taylor can barely believe she will be playing in such illustrious company.
“It has all happened a little bit quicker than I expected,” said the Chorley teenager. “I probably got here two years before I thought I would but my attitude is to make the most out of it while playing well.”
And playing well she certainly is. She enjoyed a stellar 2012 topping the England Golf women’s under-18s order of merit and qualifying for the Women’s British Open at Royal Liverpool where she played alongside one of her heroes in Davies.
She also won the British Amateur Open Strokeplay under-18 title and represented England in the World Amateur Team Championship.
Then she went to Qualifying School in Morocco and finished joint runner-up – securing a professional card for this year and a spot on the Ladies European Tour. There she will play 20 tournaments across 16 countries kicking off in Australia next week and then playing the New Zealand Open from February 8-10.
“It’s not a bad start in Australia,” said Taylor. “The first two are two tournaments I really look forward to playing in.
“The Australian one is one that I am particularly excited about because it’s one I have always wanted to play in. I hear the course is fantastic and I am looking forward to getting out there and playing it now.
“I think I am down to play 20 events on the Ladies European Tour which is a great starting point.
“The travelling doesn’t really faze me, it’s something I actually quite enjoy. I’ve already counted up how many different countries I’ll be visiting and it’s 16.
“It will be a great way to see so many different countries.”
But anyone thinking this is a holiday for Taylor is very much mistaken.
Surviving on the ladies tour is a tough ask for a teenager, but Taylor believes coping with the pressure of Q School will play into her hands as she mixes it with the big guns.
“I am desperate to not have to go back to Q School,” she said.
“That is my first aim, it’s to try and keep my card this year. It was a big relief to get my card.
“It just secures the future for the next year and I am really looking forward to it.
“Q School carries quite so much pressure because it sets you up for the whole season but I had been playing well last year as an amateur and having some good results so I felt confident.
“I was really pleased to perform so well and hopefully I can carry that on now and use the experience to play well again in 2012.
“It will be tough but it will be a challenge and one I am looking forward to.”
As well as pressures on the course, starting a daunting life on tour away from friends and family also presents problems off the greens.
“I will be hoping to make some new friends quickly,” said Taylor of the social company she will be keeping. “Most of the golfers I know are still amateurs but there is quite a strong English contingent already on the tour so hopefully I will be okay.”
Taylor has been playing golf for 10 years since she became a regular at nearby Charnock Richard Golf Club.
Taylor’s grandad took her to the driving range and taught her to play from the book Tiger Woods How I Play Golf.
She also credits her first coach, Jane Forrest at Clitheroe Golf Club, as one of the greatest influences on her career.
And she knew from the start that it was the sport for her.
“I started playing when I was eight years old. I really enjoyed playing as a youngster and then it all went from there. I absolutely love playing the sport and was just really enjoying it when results started to come. To be honest the last two years has just flown by and everything has just come so quickly.
“I had a good year as an amateur last year but even so I wasn’t expecting to turn professional this year.”
Taylor is now associated with the Hillside club in Liverpool and also pointed out the support she has received off the course.
“I have had some support from ISM which been fantastic in helping with a lot of things sponsorship wise.
“I have also had a lot of support from friends and family which has been great and I am just really keen to get started now.”