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An abbreviated version of the following interview with Walshe is featured in the Summer 2021 edition of MassGolfer Magazine.
MassGolfer: You stepped away from the LPGA a few years ago and returned to Massachusetts. Where are you working and how did that unfold?
Alison Walshe: Yes, I decided to step away from full-time golf a few years ago as I was at a point in my life where I felt that if I continued to travel and play, then I would be a “lifer.” That would be completely fine, except I have always had a gut feeling that I wanted to do something else, as well. I will still compete but not at a full schedule. TBD, I guess. I am currently working with a wealth management firm, Hexagon Capital Partners, where I manage strategic relations and partnerships.
MG: You won your first Mass Golf junior championship in 1998, then the overall title in 2003. How has the landscape changed for young girls and what thoughts do you have on how it could be even better?
AW: This question immediately aged me with the years stated! I think the landscape has changed for the better. Not that that long ago, golf was the fastest growing sport for girls under 18, which is hard to believe. I think there certainly is more opportunity and support now than when I was younger. For example, when I was in high school there was no girls’ golf team and I was the only girl in a boys’ league; now, most schools have a girls’ team, or they have a co-ed league. Is it where it needs to be? No. I think it can always be better. I hate to be a feminist, but women and sport have always lacked some equality when it comes to opportunity, exposure, and access. I think we could dive into each of those sectors and expose how it can be better.
MG: Does the passion to compete still burn within?
AW: Always. I don’t think I’ll ever lose the passion to compete; it’s an addiction. But in all seriousness, my experience as a successful athlete has had such a profound impact on my character that carries over into everything I do now, whether I want it to or not. I will always be competing and working hard whether it is sport or business, and I think that’s a great thing.
MG: What does your volunteer role with Mass Golf entail?
AW: I was asked to be part of a committee with Mass Golf for marketing and communications. I’m humbled to be a part of the committee because it’s truly a great group of professionals who share the same passion and desire to make Mass Golf the best it can be and garner as much support and engagement as we can.
MG: Is competing for the U.S. in a 2008 Curtis Cup at the Old Course still an unforgettable experience? (Walshe went 4-0, including three wins paired with Stacy Lewis.)
AW: Yes, I think any time you represent your country it hits differently than anything else in sport; it’s an honor and it’s just so cool. I was fortunate to represent the U.S. on a few other occasions, but to have the opportunity to play the Curtis Cup when it was at St. Andrews – the Home of Golf – was certainly unforgettable. They shut the R&A clubhouse and the whole course down for just the two teams (16 of us) for a week. To play on a team with some of my best friends and top it off with a win is just something that I will never forget.
MG: You probably wouldn’t recommend trying the collegiate journey you took (Boston College to Tulane to Arizona) but do you urge young women golfers to pursue a collegiate golf experience?
AW: Ha! [Big laugh] I guess I wouldn’t recommend the route I took. However, I had an absolute blast, given the circumstances. Yes, I highly encourage young women golfers to pursue collegiate golf. I am a firm believer in education and that the tour is always going to be there. I also believe that college golf these days is as competitive as you want it to be, and it can better you in the long run.
MG: What should the LPGA be looking for in its next commissioner?
AW: Coincidentally they just named the new commissioner today (Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who was Athletic Director at Princeton.) I think the LPGA needs someone who understands our product and our market wholeheartedly. I think we get ahead of ourselves and are constantly comparing our tour with the PGA Tour, and I can’t help but laugh. We can’t parallel with the PGA Tour nor compete with them – it’s just not even close. Yet, we can trend in the direction of the PGA Tour and bridge the gap. We need small goals to attain bigger ones. I am a true believer in branding and exposure and attracting support. If we can brand the players on the LPGA, expose personalities and engage with fans, then get the support to do it on a stage that also engages the fans, then I think growth and better opportunities will present themselves.
MG: Do you think people realize just how good competitive women golfers are?
AW: I don’t really know, to be honest. I would hope so and I’d like to say, “Yes, they do.” But if they don’t, then I encourage them to go out to a tour event and see it up close.
MG: Who had the greatest influence on your golf development?
AW: A lot of people, for different reasons. However, the greatest influence is by far my parents. My dad for introducing me to a game he loved and for playing with me as much as he could. My mom for literally traveling with me to and from every tournament when I was a junior. Without the two of them in those roles, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see where my game could go.