Ahead of what turned out to be a crowning moment at the European Ladies’ Amateur Championships last week, we spoke to England’s Alice Hewson on her love of golf, the thrill of a competition and her hopes for the future…
What do you love about golf?
I love that you can always get better at golf but you can never achieve ‘perfect’. You can always hit it further or closer, or hole more putts. You can play horribly all day but at the end you hit that one shot that feels so nice and that is the shot that keeps you coming back every single time.
Why did you start playing?
I started playing with my dad who is an avid golfer. I would originally just walk around with him a little but started to putt a little then hit a few shots. The course that I play at had a junior program called YMG that had lesson progressions for juniors in a group setting, and I loved it. If the weather was bad the session would be focused on learning the rules, and we progressed from complete beginners to actually playing holes. It was such a great environment to learn in.
What’s your first memory of golf competition?
I actually played my first competition on my 7th birthday. I could barely hit the ball, definitely not every single time. I was the worst player in the competition by far and completely missed the ball on my first swing ever in a tournament! But at the end of it they presented me with a birthday cake and I had (somehow) played my way into a national final!
What do you enjoy about competing?
Competing gives me so many amazing opportunities. I have been able to travel all over the world, I was able to study and earn my degree in a different country, and I have many so many friends. None of this would be possible without competing. The women’s game is so unique in the fact that everyone is still friends through it all and I love that.
Tell us about the highlights of your competitive career…
I was able to win four times in my college career in America, including our home event. That was definitely very special, winning at home, and my dad was over watching too.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the winning Curtis cup team in 2016. I think there have only been eight winning GB&I teams every so that was incredible. It is always great to win as part of a team, especially playing for your country.
In 2016 and 2017 I was part of the European team champions teams with England, and I was the only person to be a part of both teams. We made history the first time as England hadn’t won in 35 years, and then made history again the following year as no England team had ever defended the title!
[Note – we’re pretty sure here at England Golf that following her win at the European Ladies’ Amateur Championships last week, she’d rank this as a top moment now, too!]
You made history by playing at Augusta National in the inaugural ANWA. How did that feel?
Playing at Augusta, especially so close to the masters, was a real dream come true. The greens were the fastest I had ever played on and not a blade of grass was out of place. Augusta creates an atmosphere like no other; you could hear the roars from all over the place. There were grandstands next to the 15th green and 16th tee and I holed a tough putt from over the back of 15. The cheers that came made my hairs stand right on end. It was incredible and I can’t even put into words how special that moment was.
What has helped to hone your competitive edge?
England Golf has been a huge part of my development over the years. I have been in squads since I was about 12, working my way through, and have now been in the women’s squad for about five years. England really sets you up in the best way possible tackling nutrition, fitness, short game and course management. England Golf has really shaped me as a player and I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you’ve have given me over the years.
My time at Clemson really changed me as a person and as a golfer. I had to grow up a lot when I went to university, especially being 4,000 miles away from home. Not only was I practising more than ever and studying accounting, I had to time manage to get my laundry done, find extra time to study and get enough sleep! It was tough to juggle everything but it really prepares you for real life. The facilities we have at Clemson are some of the best in the country. We had two different grasses for the greens, inside hitting bays, grass range, track man and every other gadget you could think of. It’s hard not to get better when you’re in that type of environment.
What are your plans for the future?
My current plans are to go to tour school in August and try to get my playing rights on the Symetra tour or LPGA.
What would you say to other women and girls to encourage them to compete?
Being able to play golf and compete is so good for you as a person, even if you’re not all that good to begin with. Golf courses frequently happen to be in some really lovely places and so travelling to events is fun. But the biggest thing is the friendships that you will make. These friendships last forever and I’ve made my irreplaceable friends through golf. So no matter what anyone says, or if you feel like you’re not good enough, keep going! It will all be worth it!
Photo credit: Leaderboard Photography