A round with… Sally Hinton

Third-generation PGA professional Sally Hinton on her passion for golf, her favourite playing partners and who makes it into her dream fourball

For Sally Hinton, a career in golf was almost unavoidable. Growing up at Bridgnorth Golf Club in Shropshire, where her dad was the head professional, Sally went on to star at college in the US – holding the school scoring record at Missouri State University and being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Today, she is senior PGA teaching professional at Close House, a club which she has been part of for more than 10 years. We caught up to learn more about her passion for the game, where she likes to play, and more…

How much golf do you get to play?
Most of my time on the course now is playing lessons. I love doing those in the summer and I play the occasional social game but competing has really taken a back seat since I left college and took up a coaching job. It’s hard to do coaching and playing well, and I love my coaching.

How did you get into golf?
I’ve always played golf; I can’t remember a time I didn’t have clubs around me and there are home videos of me hitting balls with a wooden spoon as a toddler. My dad was the professional at Bridgnorth and we lived on the golf course. My uncle and grandfather were also professionals and my mum plays – if you’re from Shropshire and your surname is Hinton, you’re probably a golfer.

Which is your favourite course in the North East?
I really enjoy the Colt Course at Close House, the views when you get to the top of the valley are amazing. I also really enjoy Dunstanburgh and Goswick, there are fantastic links courses here.

And further afield?
I love playing The Old Course at St Andrews – teeing off the first in front of the R&A clubhouse and walking back into town playing the 18th are special moments in your golfing career.

What’s your best score?
A five under-par 69 at Bridgnorth – I got to know it well growing up.

Which is your favourite golfing memory?
Getting to go back to Missouri State to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was fantastic.

What about embarrassing moments on the course?
Playing a college event at Rio Verde in Arizona, I shanked a tee shot into a villa. Luckily, I didn’t cause any damage and just rushed back to my bag to get another ball.

Do you have any golfing superstitions?
I must use a golf ball with a one or a two on it. Threes make me think about three putts and fours are just not for me.

What are your strengths on the course?
My driving – I’m not long off the tee but I’m accurate.

And your weaknesses?
Putting – I think it stems from finding it boring as a junior. I’ve never really got over that feeling and been able to spend the time practising it.

Which is your favourite club in the bag?
My Ping G425 Max driver, which I switched to this season and absolutely love.

Who is your best golfing friend?
My dad, although we don’t get to play together a lot. He’s retired now but he still loves golf, and we tend to have competitive games. He knows how to wind me up and our games still finish quite close.

If you weren’t a PGA professional, what would you be doing?
I have no idea – golf has been such a huge part of my life. I’d like to think I’d be involved in sport and coaching, possibly as a PE teacher.

Who is your favourite tour player?
It has to be Lee Westwood; he’s such a nice guy and I really enjoy watching him play.

Which golf events do you  enjoy most?
I’ve loved going to the Solheim and Ryder cups – the atmosphere is so different to an individual event and they’re such special occasions.

Who do you admire?
Annika Sorenstam was the icon of women’s golf when I was growing up. She dominated the game and I’ll always remember when she shot 59 in 2001 on the LPGA Tour, that moment helped inspire to be a professional golfer.

Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
My dad would have to be there first as I enjoy playing with him and wish we could play more golf together. I’d love to have seen Seve Ballesteros up close, so I’ll pick him too, and I’ve never had a chance to play with Lee Westwood despite all the time we spend at the same club, so I’ll add him in there.

If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
The shank at Rio Verde. I’ll never forget the look on my coach’s face when I did it, I think we both just went into shock.