Hannah McCook is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as she prepares to return to competitive golf following hip surgery.
McCook, 26, has been undergoing rehabilitation since undergoing the operation in March, which has amounted to a slow process of regaining her strength and fitness.
The time she would normally spend practising was instead allocated to recovery exercises and basic walking routines, which was the cause of much frustration for the Nethy Bridge golfer.
The progress made in recent weeks has brought about a fresh impetus for McCook, who played her first full 18-hole round at Gleneagles last Monday.
McCook is hoping to emerge stronger from her arduous spell on the sidelines, and she said: “I played my first 18 holes at Gleneagles last Monday which was a momentous occasion, I actually got quite emotional after it.
“It has been six months since my surgery. I knew the day would come when I would do it, but I didn’t know when it would be, or how I would feel.
👀 This certainly hasn’t been an easy process, but I feel I’ve had one of the biggest and proudest weeks in my rehab journey… so far…
— Hannah McCook (@HannahMcCook) August 21, 2021
“It was so good to be back. I feel like I’ve got a sense of purpose again by being able to play fully.
“I have been out for walks with friends, I’ve chipped and putted, and hit nine-irons and six-irons, but standing on a tee with my driver out and a full bag of clubs is different.
“I always tried to think there were people in worse positions than me, but that still didn’t make it any easier at the time.
“There have been a few tears.
“People always said you learn a lot about yourself during rehab, and you really do. I feel like a completely different person from six months ago, both physically and mentally.
“In hindsight, that’s a good thing.”
Despite being limited in the physical work she could do, McCook was able to practise putting from an early stage of her recovery schedule, which she hopes will bear fruit in the coming months.
She added: “As soon as I was able to stand comfortably on two feet I was putting. A lot of people have been joking that my putting is going to be amazing after all the rehab time.
“I’ve told them not to expect too much because you just don’t know, but I’m secretly hoping it’s going to be a lot better.
“I’m able to get up and do a gym session and play 18 holes or hit a few balls, whereas four months ago I would be doing a few rehab exercises and maybe walk a kilometre if I could.
“My car has got golf clubs in it now, and I’m able to wear golf clothes again. It’s just those little things that make me feel better mentally.”
McCook’s injury ruled her out of last month’s Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links, which she had qualified for as a result of winning the ladies order of merit on last year’s Tartan Pro Tour.
Although her place has been successfully deferred until next year, McCook says watching the event still proved a difficult experience.
The 28-year-old said: “At the time of the surgery, the aim was to be back for the Women’s Scottish Open.
“It’s not as if things were not progressing quickly, but I was quite cautious at times. There was no point in rushing anything that was going to put me back.
“We went as fast as we could sensibly, but the Women’s Scottish Open probably came a month too soon.
“Sportscotland have looked after me the whole time, and Paul Lawrie and Michael MacDougall at Five Star have also looked after me really well. They managed to get my place deferred until next year – they decided it was the fairest thing to do, which I was glad about.
“I struggled watching it, as I thought I could have been there, but I was able to watch some of it knowing I would get my opportunity next year.
“There was still a bit of frustration, but it was easier knowing I’m getting to go there next year.
“I tried to stay off social media as much as I could as I struggled seeing people do things I wanted to do.”
McCook’s immediate goal is to compete in the upcoming Tartan Pro Tour events, starting with the St Andrews Classic on September 21-22, with a view towards preparing her for the Ladies European Tour qualifying school in December.
McCook, who competed on the LET Access Tour prior to her injury, added: “There are some Tartan Pro Tour events which I’m going to use as test events, just to see how it feels and reacts. I’ll be trying to go with zero expectations at all.
“They’re all in Scotland, so I can drive to them, and they’re all pretty flat courses.
“I’m still taking it week-by-week, but that’s the idea at the moment and I’ll see how I react.
“I’ll be looking at going back into Tour School in December, so having a few events under my belt will lead me quite nicely into that.”