GEORGIA HALL: “I’M READY TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL”
After bagging her first win as a professional at the British Open back in 2018, England’s Georgia Hall is looking to take her career to the next level after recent victories on both sides of the Atlantic
You kicked off this year with a win at the Saudi Ladies International in March. How important was it to get a ‘W’ in the book so early in the season?
Yeah, it was fantastic to win in March, which was early in the season for me, and to do so at such big event. Both my previous big wins have come in the second half of the year, so I was really pleased to get off to good start this year.
I love the course at Royal Greens, it seems to suit my game, so to lead from the first round and to keep my head in front was something I was very proud of. I had a five-shot lead going into the final round, and sometimes those big leads are the hardest to defend, as you can start playing safe and get into trouble, but I was really happy with the way I coped with the pressure and kept my lead intact. I put a lot of work in at the start of the year, so I’m in a good place at the moment, and I’m very happy with my golf.
You adopted a different schedule at the start of the year compared to previous seasons, playing in a couple of tournaments in Florida, but no play at all in Asia. What was the thinking behind that?
I love playing golf tournaments anywhere in the world, so a lot of the time I would just play in a certain tournament just to play, but this year I’ve kind of set out my stall to play in the events I specifically enjoy playing and the golf courses I know I play well on.
Travelling to Asia takes a long time and I haven’t played that well there in the past, so I thought I’d mix things up this year and see how I fared with a different schedule. I also skipped the KIA Classic in California because I don’t enjoy the course at Aviara. And it kind of paid off, as I won in Saudi the following week at a course that I know that I like and generally play well on.
Do you feel that as you’ve got more experience under your belt you’re in a better position to make decisions about where to play and where not to play?
Yeah, I think it takes a few years to know what schedule suits you and what courses you perform best on. And living in the UK, but playing predominantly on the LPGA Tour, makes things a tiny bit harder travel-wise. So, I it’s taken some time to learn what courses I like and how many weeks I can be away from home. I’ve never really done that well in Asia, but I’m sure I will be back there soon, but I figured it would be ok to take a break from it for a season and see how things go.
You’ve been a global player from the outset of your professional career, but how hard was it to adjust from playing the LET to the LPGA Tour?
The LPGA Tour is a big change from the LET – the pins are often in tougher spots and the courses are a lot longer than in Europe. And, of course, the fields are stronger. There can also be some big distances between venues, and time differences, so you have to factor all that in too.
We obviously play for a lot more money in America, but it also costs a lot more to get out there and stay out there. If you are not playing well and missing a lot of cuts, it is extremely expensive. You have to pay for a visa to get over there, flights are even more expensive nowadays, and if there is a week where there isn’t a tournament, you still have to pay for accommodation. It is expensive, but if you do play well, the rewards are there.
It’s a record-breaking season in terms of prize money on the Ladies European Tour, with €30 million up for grabs across the season. How does it feel from a player’s perspective to have those purses to play for and for women’s golf in Europe to getting that kind of support following what has been a rocky time for the tour?
Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. It’s definitely what the LET needs, and it’s such a more positive situation to be in than was the case just a few years ago. I’m really happy for the girls. The tie-in with the LPGA Tour has been a really great move, and that’s why you get LPGA players coming over here, because they want to compete in these events and play on this Tour.
How much are you looking forward to teeing it up at the Aramco Team Series event at Centurion next month?
The Aramco Team Series has been a really great addition to the Tour and one that I know the girls enjoying playing in. Having that team element is different and makes it a little more interesting – and is a real force for good in women’s golf.
Any time you get to tee it up on home soil is very special indeed, so an opportunity to win individually or with my team in London at the Aramco Team Series is something that would obviously be a massive season highlight.
I love the concept and a chance to play and win with a range of different players with some good memories from last year. Women’s sport and UK golf is booming at the moment, so fun and exciting events like this on the LET provide a massive opportunity for more women and girls to get inspired to play.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, what are some of your immediate goals?
My main goal is to win more tournaments, and I think I’m ready to do that now. I have a better understanding of my game, I have a better understanding of my schedule and where I can play my best, so hopefully that will lead to some positive results and hopefully some more wins. I just want to take it to the next level, and I feel like I’m ready to do that.
One of my other goals is to get back into the world’s top 10. The top players in the world are super consistent and it’s tough to get there, so I have to play good golf week-in, week out. Being more consistent in the majors is also important, but putting in strong performances across the board will be the key to getting my ranking up.
We had fans back the Women’s British Open when it was held at Carnoustie last year and will do so again when Muirfield hosts the tournament for the first time this year. How much of a boost does it provide to play in front of a supportive crowd?
I do feel very calm when I am playing the British Open. It is just so nice to play in front of the crowds that are generally getting behind you. We missed that in 2020, and to hear them cheering my name at Carnoustie was a lot of fun. Hopefully there will be a few people pulling for me at Muirfield. It certainly made a huge difference when I won at Lytham in 2018.
Going back to that win in 2018, how much pressure did having your first professional win being a major put on on you in terms of expectations in the immediate aftermath?
To be honest, I felt like the win gave me a big confidence boost, rather than putting extra pressure on me. I had an OK year after that, nothing amazing, but the second half of the 2018 season was strong. I certainly didn’t feel any external pressure – we don’t generally get that kind of attention in women’s golf, say, like they do in tennis or some other sports, so the only pressure was coming from me and what I wanted to achieve.
I’ve won a major, I’ve won on multiple tours, and I’ve had a decent run in the Solheim Cup, so I feel like I’ve done ok for someone who is still only 26.
You’ve had your boyfriend, Harry [Tyrrell] on the bag for some time now. How important has he been not only in his professional role, but also being there to support you?
Playing professional golf is a team effort – people forget sometimes how much we travel and how much time we spend away from home. It can get very lonely if you are on your own, so it is great to have Harry with me, not just as a boyfriend and a caddie, but also as a travelling companion.
He definitely helps me be more relaxed on the course. We are still boyfriend and girlfriend, but we just stay focused on the golf. He is someone I can speak to about everything and anything, as I do get a bit stressed at times. He can be a bit too laid-back, but I think I can be a bit too much the other way, so we balance each other out well.
As a caddie, he does all the yardages with me, double checks that we have the right number of clubs, all that kind of stuff, but in terms of the green reading, I have always done that myself.
Slow play has been an issue in professional golf, and women’s golf in particular, in recent years. What more do you think needs to be done to speed things up? Are you in favour of harsher penalties?
If someone is being slow and holding up play, then I believe that they should get penalised, whether it’s a warning, as a first-off, or some sort of penalty for habitual offenders. I don’t think it should matter whether it’s the last round or the first, if someone is being slow, they need to be told to hurry up or face a penalty.
I don’t think there necessarily needs to be a change in policy, but players do need to be told more often by officials to get a hurry on. It doesn’t make for great viewing on TV or help the other players when players are extremely slow. It can be hard when the weather’s bad and the wind’s blowing, but otherwise there are no excuses really.
What advice you would give to any young girls out there thinking of taking up golf?
I started when I was seven years old, and I just really enjoyed trying to make contact with the ball and try to hit it as hard as I could. The key when starting out is to have a lot of fun with it and try not to focus on the end result too much. Everyone is different, some find it easier than others, but the essential ingredient is to have fun.
WHAT’S IN GEORGIA’S BAG?
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic (9°) Fairway: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (15°) Hybrid: Callaway Mavrik (19) Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 19 (3-9) Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 5 Jaws (50°, 54°, 58°) Putter: Odyssey White Hot RX Rossie Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
GEAR TALK WITH GEORGIA
“The GBB driver is my favourite club in the bag, Driving has always been the best part of my game. When I play well, people often say it’s because of my putting, but I’m much more consistent with the driver.”
“Besides driver, I only carry a 3-wood. I go straight from my 3-wood to my hybrid. I’ve never even hit a 5-wood. For me, the gap between hybrid and 3-wood is fine. I don’t feel like I need anything between. However, for the British Open, I’ll often switch out the hybrid for a 3-iron.”
“I’ve had the Apex Pro irons in the bag for three seasons now and I’m really happy with them. I’m more about the look of the club and feeling comfortable with it than focusing on the numbers when I test, but I always take yardage into consideration. If I like it, and it doesn’t go shorter, I’ll start using it. The Apex Pros are forged and the feedback of the face is superb and I won’t change until something better comes along that works for me.”
“Callaway does cool custom stamping on wedges, and they’ve done some nice ones for me, They put my logo on one, the British flag on another, and they made me one when I won the British Open in 2018.”
“My Odyssey White Hot RX Rossie is the oldest club in my bag,” says Hall. “I’ve used it for the past six years, and it was old when I first got it. I’ve tested other putters, but I always come back to this one. You don’t hit the putter far, but I think it’s the hardest club to test. Putting is so personal. The only change I’ve made over the years is putting a SuperStroke grip on it, which takes a lot of the tension out of your hands and enables a smoother release.”