Chloe Ryan, 23, from Limerick’s South Circular Road, won the Irish, Ulster, and Munster girls’ golf titles in her teens and first played for Munster Ladies when she was just 15. She plays off a +3.5 handicap for Castletroy Golf Club and Ireland. This week, she is playing in the Irish Women’s Close Championships in Mullingar GC.
Q: How did you get into golf?
A: I played a lot of hockey until I was about 15. I hadn’t ever played golf but my younger sister Eimear got on the Munster U13 golf team and I was a little jealous. So one day I was up on top in the driving range, belting with my dad’s clubs and a big hockey-swing and a guy came up to me and asked me if I’d like to take a few lessons with him. It was Arthur Pierse. He became my coach and is still a huge mentor to me.
Q: Favourite club in the bag?
A: My 3-iron - it’s a little weapon! No one else uses 3-irons, it’s more of a man’s club but I just love it. On links or a tight spot I always know I can put my 3-iron on the fairway.
Q: Golf’s a great game for tics and superstitions? Got any?
A: I use the same marker all the time on the greens. The one I have at the moment I’ve had for three years. It’s bringing me a nice bit of luck so I’m holding onto it.
Q: Apart from your golf clubs what is your most prized possession?
A: My dog; a King Charles called ‘Prince’. I have to leave him behind when I’m away playing but it’s great to come home to him.
Q: Your Twitter feed actually indicates that not golf, nor your dog, but another sport is your real obsession.
A: Yeah, Munster rugby! Well I’m from Limerick and I grew up going to their matches. The Munster players are my heroes, especially Paul O’Connell and Alan Quinlan. I’d know Paul quite well now and I actually met him out playing golf recently.
Q: Your best round ever?
A: I had a 66 (six-under) in Germany last year and, in match play, my best ever was against Chloe Williams in the Home Internationals in Wales. She was seven-under for the round and I was six-under but lost on 18!
Q: You’ve had a few more noteworthy performances in the past 12 months?
A: I finished third in Troon this year at the Scottish Open and I won the R&A Scholars’ Trophy (for the four nations’ top university players) in St Andrew’s last year which got me an invitation to play in a professional event in Germany.
Q: What are the best and worst parts of your game?
A: I hit it a bit longer than most, I’m strong. But I wouldn’t get over a bad hole easily. I use a sports psychologist now and I meditate before I play. I meditate every day actually, using an App called ‘Headspace’ which I find brilliant.
Q: You’ve just completed a law degree in UCD. Was it hard to combine that with golf?
A: I had offers to go to university in America but I felt an Irish law degree would be more valued here. Law meant only 12 ‘contact’ hours a-week with a lot of reading but I still had plenty of free time and could cycle or walk to Elm Park every day to practise. I was on UCD’s Ad Astra programme (sport and academic scholarships) which provides a wonderful support system. My golf just used to suffer around exam-times when I’d get stressed out.
Q: Were you mixing with some serious talent on that Ad Astra programme?
A: Yes. I shared the same top floor campus accommodation with Olympians and internationals like Paul O’Donovan, Mark English, Ciara Mageean, Ciara Everard, Jeremy Duncan, Dora Gorman and Ciara Grant. There was a lot of 5am alarms going off for people going training!
Q: Now that you’ve qualified will you go pro?
A: I definitely want to give it a go but I want to get my game to a reasonably high level first. The money isn’t there in the women’s game yet to earn a career. Even if Leona (Maguire) went pro and won every single week on tour she’d still only be making what ‘top 50’ men do on the PGA. I could make a better career out of law at the moment.
Q: So what’s next?
A: I’m hoping to do a one-year Masters in International Sports Law in Madrid or New York, preferably Madrid because I speak good Spanish and there’s a lot of great golf courses in Madrid and I could play in all the big tournaments locally.
Q: What would that qualify you to do?
A: It’d be like becoming an agent. I’d be working for a firm, a bit like an Irish Jerry Maguire! It’s a really tough course to get into but if I was to do it I reckon I’d have a pretty good client base because I have a lot of friends who play golf and are looking at turning pro.
Q: If you got into the ‘business of golf’ what would you do for the women’s game?
A: Have a few ‘mixed’ tour events. It’d be great to watch and women’s golf would benefit from the media coverage. I also think that Olympic golf should be for amateurs only.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about golf?
A: That you don’t need to be fit and strong. I’ve had people say ‘why are you in the gym - sure you’re only walking?!’
Q: Any others?
A: The funniest is when they see a girl hitting a ball (far) and say ‘Oh! You hit it further than him?’…as if women can’t hit it as far as men. I hit a driver about 260 yards.
Q: Your opinion of golf clubs who still ban women members?
A: It’s pretty ridiculous in this day and age when women are treated equally by society. I don’t see why gender should set people apart.
Q: How did you do in the Irish Women’s Close in Lahinch last year?
A: I made it to the last 16, got beaten on the 18th by Shannon Burke of Ballinrobe. I’m not sure how I’ll go this year as I did my finals and I also just try to enjoy my golf during the Summer. My boyfriend (Gareth Mann, a one-handicapper from Tullamore) is caddying for me. It’s only his second time to caddy for me so hopefully we hit it off on the course!
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