Hollywood actress and R&A Ambassador Kathryn Newton played in the Amundi Evian Championship Pro-Am with LPGA professional and good friend Andrea Lee, LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux-Samaan and fellow amateur Mac Boucher on Wednesday morning. She also played in the Pro-Am at the Aramco Team Series Presented by PIF – London, last week. 

Newton has always had a passion for golf, since growing up on a golf course in Florida and hanging out with her dad, who introduced her to the game. 

As a 4-handicap golfer, in 2012, she had to withdraw from the US Women’s Open Sectional Qualifier when she landed the lead role in the supernatural horror film, Paranormal Activity 4. Since then, she has become one of the world’s biggest movie stars, starring in films including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Freaky, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, Winner and Lisa Frankenstein. 

She says, “I don’t know whether to call myself a golfer who acts, or an actor who plays golf.”

Luckily, as an R&A Ambassador, she gets to combine her talents for both acting and golf, by bringing new eyes to the game, whilst keeping in touch with some of her old friends, who are now some of the major names on the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour. Here, she tells us how…

Kathryn, how do you combine your work as a Hollywood actor with golf?

Acting is a lot easier than golf: I’ll start there!

That qualifier, Danielle Kang and Angel Yin made the cut and that was in 2012, and look how far they’ve come. That was over 10 years ago. I’m really proud of where I am as an actor, and now that I can use my voice in a different way, maybe, to make people want to play this game and be a part of it. Those girls, when I see them, they still know who I am and we’re still friendly. That’s what’s so special about this game. Even though it’s been a long time, they are still the same people and I’m still the same, so I hope we can do something for them, because I know they’ve been working so hard from that young age. Look at them now. Megan Khang and I were friends when we were eight years old playing in tournaments. Now she’s a killer on the field, so I hope that me being here can shine a light on them.

As a young girl, how did your passion for golf come about?

It was really easy, because my dad was a golfer and I grew up in Florida on a golf course so we could walk out there after school and he tricked me into thinking I was good at it, because he always teed up my ball. When I got a little older and a little bit better I started playing in US Kids tournaments. That’s where I met girls like Megan Khang. We went to Pinehurst and North Carolina and I started to follow golf and I started to go to tournaments. You just wanted to be a pro; even at 10 years old, I wanted to turn pro. I wanted to go to college and I wanted to win. The best part about playing in tournaments I saw how I could become better. I didn’t even know that you could shoot 68. I was playing like 80 and I played with Megan and she shot 69. I was shooting like 100, but then the next day, I shot 69. It sounds crazy but I didn’t even know you could be that good until I played with someone that good. So it’s about visibility, it’s about championing these women, but they’re also just really good at this game. They are great at something. The confidence that you get from being good at something is incredible. I’m not a professional player, I play for fun. I can’t tell you how good I feel when I hit a good shot and get a birdie. Every time I go out I want to play well and I think that’s what’s special about this game. 

Was there a point where you thought, I could play golf as a career? Did you have to choose between acting and golf?

I definitely had to make choices. When I was 10 years old, I was testing on a show, a sitcom, actually, and I was also playing in the US Kids at Pinehurst, North Carolina, and I told CBS Studios: “no, I’ve got to go and play in this tournament. I’d love to be a part of it, but I’ve got to go and do this really quick”. They waited for me and I still got the job. That job took me to L.A. It was a CBS sitcom on for three years with Jim Burrows and I got that job because the director, when I was 11 years old, he sat me down in the audition and he was like, tell me about your golf game. That’s all he cared about. 

It’s been this really good in between thing where I can talk to people I normally wouldn’t relate to but we have this one thing in common. I played in high school and I was going to play in college but I kept working and I kept getting opportunities to act. I think to be really good at this game is something I don’t understand. I was good, but these girls exceed what you think is good. At the AIG Women’s Open I got to play in the Pro-Am with Minjee Lee and, she was incredible. She made it look so easy, but then she tells me about her schedule and her work outs and how she’s going to practise afterwards. That’s something that takes a different kind of person. They are different and they are exceptional. 

What does golf give you, physically and mentally?

I really loved being good at something. I loved being outside in the fresh air with my dad. I loved making friends. That was a game changer because you were on a team and I’d never done that before. My first year as a Freshman, I told my coach I want to be number one. She was like, we don’t do that. I was like, what do you mean, it’s an individual sport? She was like, no, we don’t do that. You can be number one maybe and there’s a team captain, but you’re not team captain yet. I worked my way up to being team captain. What I love about the game, it’s like who you are on the golf course is who you really are, and you learn a lot about other people as well when you play with them, and just the confidence it’s given me. 

You’re proud of being an R&A ambassador. What would you like to see happen in the women’s game? 

It’s easy to say you want to see more of them on TV. I do want to see more of them on TV, but I’m trying to help young people play golf, so to get the young ones out there playing. We have a lot of people who are already leaders in this field, who are already big stars in this golf game. I’d love to see more of them so that they can shine a light. At least I’m a golfer. Girls know me, so I’m not an alien acting like I like golf. It would be so cool to see the stars of the game that are already there be even bigger so that they can pull other people up. It’s the same in my industry. You work with a movie star and then they push people out of the way to say, like, look at this girl who I’m working with. It’s the best gift. If we could have a little bit of that. I think the media coverage being equal might take some time, but I think that’s something we could do right now: shine a light on the winners. I want to know more about them. Tell us something we don’t know about them.

How has the image of golf changed?

It feels to me like there are a lot of young people. I think social media helps and I follow a lot of the girls on Instagram and I feel like I know them, which I don’t think you got before. I think before you only saw what you got through TV and any personality that came through there. Now there is an element of them being human, which makes it seem more attainable, like, “I can be like them”. I probably can’t, but I can think I can!