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Stroke of Genius

Stroke of Genius

Note: The following appears in the March issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.

The Clemson family is far-reaching, and it is even international. Sophomore golfer Alice Hewson proves this fact. Hailing from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, Hewson made a large splash on Clemson’s women’s golf team last season, proving herself to be one of Clemson’s best golfers, male or female. Though her performances can appear to be extraordinary, her beginning in the sport is rather typical.

“I first started playing golf with my dad. To begin with, I would just go up to the course with him to have a walk around and hit a few putts. Gradually I built it up, hitting chips and some iron shots into the greens.”

Her path in sports was not always clear, however. Hewson was an excellent swimmer as well, even competing at a national level in both sports. Unfortunately, she could not continue to participate in both sports, and she eventually had to choose one.

“As I got older, it became more difficult to allow enough time for golf, swimming and schoolwork, and so I knew I had to choose. It was at 15 years old that I decided to go with golf over swimming.”

With this decision made, Hewson would eventually have another decision to make…where to play college golf. Though from the United Kingdom, she knew she wanted to play college golf in the United States.

“The university system back home is structured very differently. There is hardly any money available for scholarships or in any of the sporting programs. When you go to university, the main focus is on studying and there is very little support in helping pursue an athletic career. The experience in the States provides a great team and facilities to help prepare me for turning pro after university.”

Another draw for Hewson to play in the United States was the university culture in Clemson.

“In the UK, no one really pays attention to where you went to university, and once you leave, that part of you stays there. Over here, everyone cares about university life and sports, no matter their age. I really like that aspect, and it makes me feel even more proud when I walk through an airport wearing a Clemson shirt and someone says, ‘Go Tigers’.”

Hewson had multiple options when choosing what school to attend, but Clemson always stood out to her.

“I had a lot of options coming to the U.S., and visited six other schools before finally making my decision. The fact we have facilities on campus and a lot of great courses close by was a big draw. I’m not really a city person, and so the size and location of Clemson was pretty much spot on. I was keen to have an American football stadium on campus, too, so that also helped. The final, and possibly biggest draw, was the academic support and advisors that Vickery (Hall) offers.

“I visited five or six times before I came but only once before I decided to come here. It was actually my first of seven visits, and once I saw them all, it was clear that Clemson was where I belonged.”

For many, transitioning to life in a new country can be difficult, but Hewson has made the most of it. Having traveled to the United States multiple times before coming to Clemson, she was able to adjust to the new culture.

“I didn’t find the move over very difficult. I knew that I was coming to Clemson for nearly two years before I came, and I visited five times beforehand. I was more than ready to get here, and so when I eventually did get here, I could get on with my golf and studies.”

And she did just that. Hewson exploded onto the scene during her freshman year, making an immediate impact. Hewson won her first two tournaments as a Tiger, becoming the first Clemson golfer, male or female, to do so.

“It was completely surreal to win my first two events. I never expected it. I came over expecting to play well and get off to a good start, but never did I expect to win straight away.”

Hewson attributes her lack of expectation to her lack of nerves going into the tournaments.

“There weren’t really any nerves before my first tournament, because there was no expectation. No one expects a freshman to come in and play well straight away, so I was able to go under the radar and do my thing. I was more nervous in the third event, after being unbeaten for my first two events. There was expectation. When you start your college career with two wins, you set the bar pretty high for the rest of your time, and that can be hard to live up to.”

Hewson has been up to the challenge, however, even with the bar set so high. She was named to the All-ACC team and was named ACC Freshman-of-the-Year honors last season. She excelled in the classroom as well, receiving All-ACC Academic honors. Hewson was happy to receive each award, but one stood out for her.

“The freshman-of-the-year is the most special, because that is something that can never be taken away. You’re only a freshman once, so that was a big deal to me.”

Hewson also holds Clemson’s record for the lowest score in a round (65). She is eyeing improvement, however, hoping to achieve a lower score at some point.

“It is nice to already have that benchmark set…now I can use it as a target to go beat.”

This season, Hewson has continued to perform well. She currently boasts the lowest stroke average on the team, and she is the only player to be under par on the season. She also finished in the top five in four of the first six tournaments she competed in this season. Even with this success, Hewson is still not satisfied.

“Last semester, I had some good finishes, with two second places and some good scores. Although it was good, it still wasn’t where I wanted to be, and so it really motivated me to work hard at home over the offseason. I came back more motivated than ever to be successful, and I think this has shown in my performances this semester.”

Hewson hopes to play on the LPGA Tour after her time at Clemson, and if she keeps up at this rate, there is no reason to believe she will not be able to do so. Before then, however, she still has a few more years left to spend as a Tiger, and it is clear that she will look to make the most of them.

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