You can’t help but wonder, when you meet Olivia Mehaffey, how she can switch so easily from a focused, headstrong golfer on the course, to a vivacious, warm young lady as soon as she steps off the green. The Northern Irish golfing star has no shortage of sporting achievements to her name and, with a bag full of great finishes in the last year her move to Arizona State University in September is sure to be a successful one. The upcoming Curtis Cup will no doubt show how popular the young golfer has become, as she plays in the GB & I team against the Americans. Record crowds are expected at Dun Laoghaire, Dublin and with 3 Irish golfers in the team, we are sure to see hoards of people turning up to support. For Olivia, she wants to win of course, but the way people remember her and the team as people means a lot. We put 10 questions to her to try and figure out what makes the 18 year old tick.
1. When did you first play golf?
I started when I was 6 and it was because my brother and dad played. I just went out with them to my local club. I am really competitive and so the most important thing was trying to beat my brother!
2. What is your greatest achievement to date?
I would say winning the Helen Holm Trophy last year coming from 5 shots behind to win was pretty special. It proved to myself that I am strong enough to come from behind when it really matters and I’m very proud of that. It was also amazing having all the Irish girls there with me when I won, being part of the Irish team is really special to me and in the upcoming Curtis Cup I will be representing GB&I which is an honour too.
3. What motivates you?
Seeing progression makes me very motivated. I want to be the best and the process of getting better helps me to get out of bed every day to train or head to the gym.
4. If you weren’t playing golf what sport would you like to play?
I would probably want to be a tennis player, I think it’s an amazing sport and it really impresses me when I see how powerful and explosive they are. Tennis players also get to to travel lots which is something I love about golf too.
5. And what about sport tech – do you have a favourite gadget?
Probably trackman it’s so amazing how it can track all the data on golf shots. Some people aren’t interested in all the stats but they really help me to understand how I can improve. It also gives me a really good benchmark to see my progress – there’s nothing like seeing your swing speed getting faster as you get stronger. It shows me how effective my gym work is for my game.
6. If you could tell people who don’t do sport one thing about how their lives could improve what would it be?
The opportunities sport provides are amazing! Sport can change your life in so many ways from the people you meet to the places you go and you don’t have to be playing national competitions to travel to some amazing places, club golfers play matches against many other clubs and take trips abroad to play.
7. Which female sportswomen inspires you?
Annika Sorenstam – she isn’t just an incredible golfer but a wonderful person too. I think that it’s so important to be a well-rounded person on and off the course and I think she is a great role model for that.
8. How has golf/competitive sport improved your life?
Without golf I wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to travel to so many countries around the world and met so many interesting and different people. A golf tournament has the players (of course!) but then there are the caddies, the volunteers, the staff at the clubs, the taxi drivers…the list goes on and the friendships I have made with many of these people are very special to me.
9. What do you think can be done to get more women into golf?
I think starter sessions and classes just for women makes golf seem less intimidating and hooks people in.
10. What are your aspirations for your future in sport?
Well I want to be the best! And that means turning professional, trying to win majors and being world number 1!