DEVIZES golfer Hannah Stradling is hoping to take a big step towards achieving her dream of becoming a professional player when she jets off to begin a scholarship at an American university next month.

The 18-year-old, who is captain of the Wiltshire junior girls’ team and also plays for the Wiltshire ladies’ side, is set to become the first-ever female international student to join the women’s golf team at Lindenwood University, in Belleville, Illinois.

Stradling, who first swung a club at the nine-hole Whitley Golf Club near Melksham, currently plays out of Upavon and is no stranger to studying away from home after spending the last two years completing a golf scholarship at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.

The teenager leaves for Illonois, where she will also study for a degree in business administration, on August 18 and says that she can’t wait for her American adventure.

“I got in touch with an agent who works for a company called Future Pro USA. In October-November last year, they put together a few videos of things like my swing and put them on the internet,” said Stradling.

“I wasn’t sure if anything was going to come from it but a few colleges did get in touch. A lot of them were offering 40 or 50 per cent scholarships but Lindenwood offered an 85 per cent one and it seemed like a good choice because the course is really expensive.

“I honestly can’t wait. I only started off playing golf with my nan down at Whitley and I never thought things would go this far.

“I’ve spoken to my coach (Mike Brasher) and he said that it’s like a family university over there. We’re all called the Lynx and we get together to support the other teams like the football team and the soccer team.

“There’s a video tour of the uni on their website and I’m going to be right next to a big city, St Louis (over the border in Missouri), which should be good.

“I’d love to go on to play on the LPGA Tour after my four years there but I’m also going to be studying business admin and maybe I’ll be able to start something like a ladies’ golf clothing line, which is something that really interests me.”

Stradling was part of the Hartpury girls’ side that won the British Colleges Sport National Championships title last season and she also secured a top-ten finish at the South West Girls’ Championship at Ogbourne Downs on July 14.

Stradling also featured in last weekend’s South West Ladies Championships in Somerset, where she finished 13th after the strokeplay rounds.