20 November 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

When Lizzie met Charley

September 28, 2013
charley-hull-and-lizzie

I love chatting to somebody else who can’t cook. Hearing golf superstar Charley Hull giggle whilst trying to explain how she desperately struggled to cook a simple steak is something that I can relate to very well.

“I put it in the pan, waited, took it out and cut it open – over and over again I did this and it just wouldn’t cook through, I don’t know where I was going wrong! I just got a Dominoes in the end, pizza’s my favourite meal anyway!” I think I would have just done the same – nice choice.

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But what excuse do I have? I’m 25 years old and have had to fend for myself for a good few years now. It’s not quite the same for Charley so maybe this is where our similarities end…

At 17 years old, Charley lives at home with her parents, her recent steak experience was the first time she had attempted cooking on her own, she isn’t old enough to drink, is just old enough to drive (although hasn’t started learning, but assures me she will soon when she has the time), and has never yet been to a music gig.

But despite her young years, Charley is a golf superstar. Having recently been part of the Europe team that won the Solheim Cup, she made history by being the youngest player ever to have been selected for the squad. “The whole experience is a bit of a blur,” she recalls. “It was all a complete whirlwind, I don’t remember much really, other than the crowds being absolutely amazing.

“But we did have a lot of fun, and being part of such a close knit team was a great experience.”

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Turning professional in March of this year, the teenager already has an impressive list of achievements behind her; having been runner-up in her first five tournaments, tying for ninth place at the Ladies European Masters and playing a significant part in the team that won the Solheim Cup just a few weeks ago, there is little doubt that she will one day win a Major. But let’s slow down a little and find out, for the time being, what is the professional golf tour like for a girl of just 17 years?

“I travel everywhere with my dad. The tour rules are that if you’re under 18 you need to be accompanied by an adult everywhere, but aside from this, I keep myself to myself,” she says.

“I just like to focus on what I’m doing and not get involved with anybody else. I do have some friends, I get on really well with Cheyenne Woods, she’s such a nice, down-to-earth girl.”

Her grin slowly widens. Cheyenne is of course the niece of Tiger Woods, who above anyone else, she admits is her “absolute idol and inspiration”. But the mention of Tiger Woods and it’s difficult not to think of his irresponsible behaviour away from the golf course. I wonder with Charley’s rising profile and increased media attention, is her inevitable responsibility of being a role model herself ever daunting?

“Not really,” she shrugs without too much thought. “I just want to play my game and worry about that and nothing else. The media hype is just great for me and getting my name out there and also raising the profile of women’s golf. I do get fan-mail and I like to thank people when I can, but I won’t write back, it seems weird when I don’t even know them!

“The coolest thing ever happened when I was in Canada though – a group of boys came up to me wearing t-shirts saying ‘Charley’s Angels’ – that was ace!”

It’s incredible to think that Charley was just a year old when her idol Tiger won his first Major, The Masters back in 1997, and just twelve months later the teenager began the sport herself.

“My dad played and he introduced the game to me when I was two. We just used some plastic clubs in the back garden and I instantly loved it. He then took me down to Kettering Golf Club to experience playing on a course and I’ve been there ever since.”

Practicing up to six hours every day, Charley left school at the age of 13 to be home tutored, “school just got in the way of my golf” she says, and despite a brief interest in art, studying wasn’t on the top of her agenda. “I just wanted to play golf and nothing else, so I left at an early age and waited until I was 16 to get my GCSE’s. Unless I have to, I really don’t see myself going back to education.”

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Charley has an incredibly likeable nature, but despite her confidence on the course, comes across off it, as a fairly shy girl, that is, until I mention her friends and her whole face lights up.

“You know the biggest compliment I’ve ever received was when one of my best friends turned around and said to me ‘you’re actually pretty good at golf aren’t you? I had no idea until recently, well done!’ It was just great that, having no idea about the sport, she had actually taken an interest in it for me and it meant so much.”

We chat some more about her friends (oh and on a side note, her love for Johnny Depp and Steven Gerrard creeps in too!) and it’s apparent just how important they are to her.

“I never ever go away abroad on holiday when I have time off, instead I just like to hang out with my mates and do normal things like go to the cinema. I love horror and action movies the best, although The Inbetweeners is my favourite movie ever! And I love eating the nachos at the cinema too.” A girl after my own heart and we’re back to food. “I’m not too fussed about eating popcorn though, it gets stuck in my teeth too much and hurts, but guaranteed whatever I choose to eat, it will be gone before the trailers have even ended!”

So this is how Charley will be spending her next few weeks, spending time with her friends and being a typical young girl, as she enjoys a well-deserved break before competing for the title of the fifth Major of the year, The Evian Championship, which begins 12 September.

But beyond the foreseeable future, what does this teenager from Kettering really want to accomplish in her life?

“There is nothing specific that I want to achieve, I just want to be the best golfer that I can be for as long as I can be…but I do really want to go and see the Arctic Monkeys live, I love them!”

And that, I can safely say is something I want to do too, so maybe we do have more than one thing in common after all…

Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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