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