Interview with Alice Hewson
Getting to know the talented rookie who turned professional in January and won her first LET event, the Investec South African Women’s Open, at Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town, in March.
How did you first get involved with golf and when did you realise you could make a living from it?
I first started playing golf at the age of six at my local club, Berkhamsted. They offered really great group junior coaching and that is where I fell in love with the game. The sessions covered everything from rules classes to challenges to help the group develop. At the age of seven I entered my first ever tournament, but unfortunately my first shot was actually an air shot! Luckily my golf has improved a little bit since then!
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to play golf for my career. It was always a very different ambition than the people I went to school with. I knew for a fact that going to university in America would be the best route for me in order to improve my game and prepare for turning pro. I can safely say that going to Clemson University was the best decision that I made and gave me so many incredible experiences to help me get ready for life on tour.
You won the Investec South African Women’s Open, which was your first professional event. What was the key to that success?
One of the biggest factors to playing well in South Africa was my preparation. I was in Abu Dhabi the week before, and although it was really unfortunate that the event was cancelled over there, it gave me a great opportunity to sharpen my game and in nice weather. It was really windy when we first arrived in South Africa so the course played very differently than the actual tournament days. I played my practice rounds but didn’t hit as many shots as I normally would because the wind wasn’t going to be the same. My focus was mainly around the greens and I believe that really helped me in the tournament rounds.
During the tournament I didn’t really know what to expect. I had only played in two professional events before – one on the LET Access Series and then the AIG Women’s British Open – so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I just had to stick to my own game and see how it turned out.
Where is your favourite golf course in the world?
Playing Augusta National in the Women’s Amateur has to be up there. I have never seen a course in such amazing condition. Not a single blade of grass was out of place, the rough was lush and the greens firm and fast. Somehow they are even faster for the Masters the following week! Combined with the history and significance of playing in the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur, that would have to be my favourite.
Do you have any golfing superstitions?
I always mark up my ball in the same way and I always place my ball down when lining it up in the same way. I have a black A H either side of the number on both sides of the ball, a black line running through where it says ProV1 and either a Union Jack or St. George’s Cross on the right side of the ball. I always line the ball up so the flag is on the further away side of the ball, and if I could see the ProV1 writing it would be the correct way up. I prefer to use the number 1 on my ball too, but that is not always possible.
What’s the Rule you’d most like to abolish?
That is a tough question! Maybe being able to move your ball out of a divot in the fairway – if you hit a bomb down the middle and end up in a divot it can be pretty heart-breaking, but at the end of the day it’s a part of the game
Who would be your three favourite players in a four-ball?
Myself, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Seve.
Do you have a favourite musician or group?
I love listening to Lewis Capaldi. I was meant to be seeing him in concert in April but unfortunately it was cancelled due to coronavirus. Hopefully I will be able to see him when the concert is rescheduled!
What do you like to do in your time off?
I like to spend time with my friends and family. Travelling a lot between the UK and the US there can be quite a lot of time between seeing people so it is always good to see them. Recently I’ve been trying to watch football games wherever I go too. Last year I was able to watch Atlanta United, LA Football Club, and visited the Bournemouth stadium. I’ll always appreciate the simple times of just snuggling down to watch a movie though!
Which sports teams do you follow and why?
First off it has to be my Clemson Tigers! My time at Clemson University was incredible and I loved spending my time going to American football, football and baseball games when I was there. I always try to catch a game of some kind whenever I am in town, but I’ll also stream the American football games wherever possible.
I have always been an Everton fan as well as my dad is originally from Liverpool. A fun thing I like to do with my family is watch our local football team too. It is something my grandad has done for many years so I love to tag along. The Hemel Hempstead Tudors always give a good time, even in the freezing cold.
Who’s your favourite celebrity to follow on social media?
I don’t follow too many celebrities but I love to follow all the Clemson teams.
What was it like to play in the AIG Women’s British Open last year?
It was an incredible experience to play in the Open last year. I had never played in a professional tournament before so it was definitely being thrown in at the deep end! Although I didn’t play my best golf that week it was nice to have the feeling of being inside the ropes for the very first time and I definitely learned a lot about my game and the changes needed to be successful. I was very lucky that Woburn is only about 30 minutes from my house so I was able to stay at home and lots of people from Berkhamsted Golf Club were able to come and watch. That made the experience even more special.
Have you ever played at Troon and if so, what was it like?
I have to be one of the only girls from GB&I to have never played at Troon! The big amateur event held there, the Helen Holm, was always played during school time. I stayed in full-time school and so it never worked out that I could get up there to play. I am looking forward to (hopefully) getting up there this summer.
Why is the AIG Women’s British Open so special?
Being a major, and a home major, the British Open is very special. I think what makes it special personally is it will always be the first major I ever played. I was so lucky to play when it was held at Woburn, which is about 30 minutes from my house. So many members from Berkhamsted Golf Club, my home club, were able to come and watch.
What are your long-term goals?
Long term I really dream of being successful both on the LET and the LPGA. I aim to win majors and play for Team Europe in the Solheim Cup.
What would it mean to win a major?
To win a major would absolutely be a dream come true! It’s what everyone dreams of achieving.
Who’s your inspiration?
It has been really great to follow behind the likes of Georgia Hall and Bronte Law. I was lucky enough to overlap with them for a period with England Golf and see how they have progressed from being great amateurs to outstanding pros! Seeing people follow a similar path to myself and be that successful is definitely inspiring.
Why did you choose to study Accounting at Clemson University?
A big factor for me was choosing a degree that I know I could use if the golf doesn’t work out. Anything can happen, such as career-ending injuries or even not enjoying professional life, so I wanted to make sure I always had something as a back-up. I have always enjoyed maths based subjects at school and I love the order and uniformity that Accounting brings to the table. It definitely wasn’t the easy choice and I had to dedicate a lot of time and effort to ensure I got the best degree that I could, but it was 100 per cent worth it in the end. I also have the option to complete a Masters too if I ever decided to go down that route.
You were a national swimming finalist. What learnings did you bring to golf from the pool?
Swimming requires a lot of grit and determination to be successful, but it also required a lot of rigidity and structure. I was able to get myself into a routine when I was swimming seven times a week, golfing multiple times a week and still doing my GCSEs or A-Levels, and this took a lot of discipline. I think this really set me up for building a schedule and routine at University, and now that I have turned professional. Swimming also taught me how to be resilient; in team events I would often be the last leg and start way behind the other swimmers. Being in that situation showed me that no matter how far behind I am or how impossible it might seem to catch up, always push to the very end.October 5, 2020 4:01 pm