MY LIFE IN GOLF: DEB­O­RAH HUT­TON

Deb­o­rah Hut­ton first gained fame, while still in her teens, as a top in­ter­na­tional model. In the years since she has worn many hats – tele­vi­sion and ra­dio pre­sen­ter, mag­a­zine ed­i­tor and busi­ness­woman – and has made golf a big part of her life.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS -

Matt Cleary talks ex­clu­sively to me­dia per­son­al­ity Deb­o­rah Hut­ton about how she found golf, her love of the 19th hole and how she got to play Au­gusta Na­tional.

I first started play­ing around 2000. I was at the Golden Door Health Farm, and golf was a way of get­ting out of there! I went down for a clinic at Sanc­tu­ary Cove, learned how to swing a club. And I just started con­nect­ing, a cou­ple came o the mid­dle and it was such a great feel­ing. Great fun. And I came away from that think­ing, ‘This is some­thing I can take up with my mates, in­stead of lunch or drinks’. I didn’t know then that the 19th hole is as im­por­tant as any of them! Golf seemed so for­eign; it looked so dicult. But I de­cided that I was go­ing to bring it into my life. I joined St Michael’s in Syd­ney which was a lovely ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause the fe­male mem­bers were just very sweet, very down to earth. They showed me the ropes and al­lowed me to make a few mis­takes in a wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Some­times peo­ple can get too se­ri­ous about the game. My pro­gres­sion was slow at first. But af­ter I’d played a few rounds – and play­ing in the wind at St Michael’s im­proves your game – I went out with a 45-hand­i­cap and the lady pres­i­dent. Af­ter 18 holes I thought I’d played okay. But the pres­i­dent was so ex­cited. She couldn’t stop say­ing, “51 points! 51 points!” It was very funny. I came down pretty quickly from there. I hover around 18 or 19 today. That was al­ways my goal – shot a hole! I was never that driven to sin­gle fig­ures. If you can sit on that, it’s a nice com­fort bu er. There’s enough bloody pres­sure in the world, you don’t need more on the golf course. O 18 you can play with any­body, hold your game to­gether. Golf for me is about the fun, the peo­ple you meet, the so­cial thing. It’s not about win­ning. Well … I am com­pet­i­tive. I hate to give any­thing away. I’ll play you in match-play any day. I started to see coach Gary Barter at The Aus­tralian. And he re­ally worked on my swing. He sug­gested I join the club. I had a bunch of mates there so I put my name down.

By join­ing the Oz, I got se­ri­ous. I played a lot and it be­came a larger and larger part of my life. Golf plays an in­cred­i­bly large part in my work life. You play with heads of busi­nesses and meet these guys on a level play­ing field, lit­er­ally, and go straight to the point of be­ing a mate. You’re not stand­ing about in a suit or with a drink at some func­tion. It’s an open, wel­com­ing state. And I’ve met some amaz­ing peo­ple and op­por­tu­ni­ties have come out of that. For a busi­ness­woman, if you can hit a golf ball there’s an im­me­di­ate con­nec­tion. There’s an ac­cep­tance, it can be a pass­port in. It can be a chal­leng­ing thing in the nor­mal av­enues of busi­ness “net­work­ing”, but golf gives you that. Think about it: golfers are of­ten higher­wealth, time on their hands, run­ning busi­nesses. It’s not why I play with peo­ple. But the more I be­come in­volved in my busi­ness you can see the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Some­times it’s not even about the four hours. It just en­larges your net­work. An­other thing I do is auc­tion 18 holes at The Aus­tralian for char­ity. It’s been very suc­cess­ful for a num­ber of char­i­ties. A round of golf fol­lowed by lunch. One year we did it for Starlight Foun­da­tion, raised $20,000. It doesn’t cost much and I get to spend time play­ing golf and meet­ing good peo­ple with good hearts, and raise money for char­i­ties. It en­hances your life. What’s stop­ping more women tak­ing up golf? Time! If you’re a mum, if you’re a work­ing­mum, if you’re run­ning a small busi­ness, time is the great­est bar­rier. Jack Nick­laus has al­ways been on about a 12­hole game. I think that’s be­com­ing a re­al­ity. I’ll go out and play nine holes in the morn­ing and then be­gin the work­ing day.

There’s also an in­tim­i­da­tion fac­tor. Peo­ple can see im­pres­sive club­houses, locked gates. Golf can look too pre­cious. But when you get be­hind all that, it can be a won­der­ful com­mu­nity. I al­ways try to en­cour­age women to hit balls like I did, with­out any ex­pec­ta­tion, and to meet like­minded women. And be en­cour­aged, hands out – come along with me and I prom­ise you’ll en­joy it. Golf needs more ini­tia­tives to break down bar­ri­ers. No golfer will give them­selves a rap. But if I must … when my game comes to­gether, I can get a bit of dis­tance with driver. I can ei­ther turn the switch on or o’. And when it’s “o’ ” I can’t find “on”. I’m quite strong in the arms though it can be a neg­a­tive, I can rely on them, and for­get about the rest of the body, shoul­ders, hips, core. I had the yips with my irons for two years. It al­most turned me o’; it was soul­ de­stroy­ing. Long par­5s I’d hit a great drive, great 3­wood, shank a lit­tle chip, skull it. I’ve ad­dressed it now and my game is com­ing back, but it’s not an easy place to be. You think you need a psych coach! You just have to change fo­cus, and work out that some­times it’s there and some­times it very much is not. I’ve played a lot in Queen­stown – Jack’s Point, the Hills. It’s such an amaz­ing

NO GOLFER WILL GIVE THEM­SELVES A RAP. BUT IF I MUST … WHEN MY GAME COMES TO­GETHER, I CAN GET A BIT OF DIS­TANCE WITH DRIVER.

des­ti­na­tion, the wine and restau­rants. I’ve had some great trips. Hawaii, the weather’s so per­fect. And they have drinks carts - thumbs up all over that. I had a sur­pris­ing and fab­u­lous few days in Abu Dhabi on highly man­i­cured, amaz­ing lay­outs, pure sur­faces. Great ho­tels. Loved it. Prob­a­bly my most amaz­ing mo­ment in golf was when I got in­vited to play Au­gusta Na­tional. [At which point in­ter­viewer can be heard on tape ex­claim­ing, What!?] I was with my mother on hol­i­days and met these lovely gentle­men, got chat­ting. One gen­tle­man owned golf cour­ses, the other was a busi­ness­man, both from At­lanta, and we be­came friends. I found out what they did much later. And then I re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion to play Au­gusta Na­tional. We stayed there, did the whole tour … de­stroyed the wine cel­lar. And played golf. And it was un­be­liev­able. The greens were so fast; it was ridicu­lous. You lean heav­ily on your caddy but your hands are shak­ing. Peo­ple come out to watch you putt! You can hit the sweet­est shot and if you’re a foot long you’re through the back, foot short and you’re in Rae’s Creek. It’s so pre­cise. But also so much fun. Re­ally for­giv­ing fair­ways. For a hack, I got oŠ the tees okay and fum­bled my way around and fin­ished with a bo­gey-golf round. Gee it was a big mo­ment. It was mas­sive. I’ve played with a lot of Aussie pros in pro-ams, and they’re all charm­ing, there’s no at­ti­tude. Not to say they don’t like a dig! You have to hold your game to­gether! But no, they’re fun. A pro-am I re­ally en­joyed was with Pete Se­nior, one of the nicest men. He’d just ar­rived from Mel­bourne af­ter win­ning the [2015] Aus­tralian Mas­ters. He’s such a sweet­heart and we had the nicest, nicest day. I love watch­ing women’s golf; they’re so amaz­ing, so pre­cise. But I mainly watch the men’s game for the power of it. Phys­i­cally, I love the way they look and play. There seem to be more char­ac­ters in men’s golf, or at least it comes out. I love Jor­dan Spi­eth, love Ja­son Day. I was so ex­cited for Sergio Gar­cia to win the Mas­ters. I was lucky enough to be in Au­gusta when Adam Scott won. I was on the 18th tee. I was so happy for him. The emo­tion of it, wear­ing his heart on his sleeve… One thing I carry re­li­giously and ev­ery golfer needs in their bag is a vodka hip flask. For those ner­vous mo­ments, those mo­ments when it’s too cold, it’s a se­cret weapon. I’ve never had a hole-in-one, though I’ve been close. I tell you what – the vodka will come out when I do!

PROB­A­BLY MY MOST AMAZ­ING MO­MENT IN GOLF WAS WHEN I GOT IN­VITED TO PLAY AU­GUSTA NA­TIONAL.

WORDS MATT CLEARY PHOTOGRAPHY GETTY IM­AGES

Hut­ton is a reg­u­lar in pro-am events and pro­mo­tions at Aus­tralian Tour events.

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