Northumberland cricket captain and Matfen Hall golf manager Nicola Hawes tells us about her love of sport, her favourite places to play golf, and whether she’d prefer to win The Ashes or The Open Championship
Sport is a big part of Nicola Hawes’ life – a lifelong cricketer from Stocksfield who splits her time between golf and cricket along with her role as golf manager at Matfen Hall – where she has spent the last 17 years of her career having worked her way up from the hotel’s reception desk. Here’s more…
With a packed schedule how do you fit golf in?
I’m lucky to be able to finish work and have the golf course outside the office door. I go through fits and starts with golf, I used to play three times a week then dropped off. The plan is to play a lot more this season and stick in. I’m playing off eight at the minute and want to get my handicap down with a bit more practice.
How did you get into golf?
I started as a junior at Stocksfield playing with a few of my friends from cricket. I left it after a couple of years then picked it back up when I started working at Matfen – it would be such a waste to have access to everything we have and not use it. Since then I’ve been playing competitively and representing the team here.
Which is your favourite course in the North East?
Locally my favourite course is Alnmouth (Foxton). I’m not a fan of links golf, I haven’t got the imagination for it, so to have a more parkland layout with all the views of a coastal course is perfect.
And further afield?
I’ve played a little bit out in Spain and loved San Roque. I’ve also been lucky enough to play Gleneagles and Archerfield in Scotland. Archerfield is amazing and I’d say that’s probably my favourite course.
5 What’s your best ever round?
I shot five over-par at Tyneside when I was a member there a few years ago.
Which is your favourite golf memory?
There’s a few from over the years but I’ll always remember playing a match at Matfen and making a hole-in-one at the 10th having been three down. I went on to win, which was pretty special.
What about embarrassing moments?
I’ve hit plenty of bad shots but there are no big horror stories in there – not any that I remember anyway.
Do you have any superstitions?
Not any golf ones, though I do mark the ball the same way every time. When I’m playing cricket I have to put my left pad on first though. I’ve put them on the wrong way round before and had to take them off and start again.
What are your strengths on the course?
My putting, I’ve always been a solid putter with my really old PING Craz-E.
And your weaknesses?
Chipping – if my confidence goes I end up hitting a bit of a cricket shot by leaning into it too much and catch them thin or fat.
Which is your favourite club?
I’ve got a really old Cleveland Halo hybrid which is my go-to club.
Who is your best golfing friend?
I play a lot of golf with Lisa Ferrie, who’s my pairs partner. We’ve known each other for about 17 years and we get on really well. She’s a really good player and she can talk for England but we’re really good friends on and off the golf course.
You’ve played cricket since you were seven, does it help your golf?
I’ve played a lot more cricket than golf over the years and can say it definitely doesn’t help your golf.
Who is your favourite tour player?
I’d probably say Rory McIlroy, I think the way he conducts himself is very good. I also make an effort to follow Chris Paisley every week too.
Which event do you enjoy attending the most?
I haven’t been to too many events, though I did love going to The Open at Muirfield. I also went to the British Masters last year, which was a fantastic event to have on our doorstep and a great experience.
Who do you admire?
One of my first cricket captains, Michael Graham at Stocksfield. He had a list of cricket etiquette that he’d pin up on the wall and I’ve always taken a lot from it. I want my teams to follow that and think it’s really important to set a high standard for the way we behave when we’re playing sport.
Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
It’s a really tough choice because there’s so many people I’d like to put in there. I’m going to have to say: Elton John, Larry Hagman and Declan Donnelly.
If I could offer you a place in a winning Ashes team or The Open Championship, which would you take?
That’s really tough. There’s something very special about the Ashes and it would be really tough to pass that up but I think I’d have to take an Open win at St Andrews.