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‘Golf fufils my drive to compete’

Ex-rugby star Anna Caplice returns to golf to fill the competitive void

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Anna Caplice

Anna Caplice

Anna Caplice

A QUICK 18

Anna Caplice

Handicap: 28

Club: Mallow

Former Irish rugby international Anna Caplice might have hung up her boots but her competitive streak remains as strong as ever and she’s determined to keep it
alive as he returns to her roots and dedicates her free time to her golf.

A member of Mallow Golf Club since she was a young girl, she’s rediscovered her love for the game and after partnering fellow Cork sporting legend Valerie Mulcahy and singer Bressie in the Pro-Am at last week’s ISPS Handa World Invitational, she’s determined to keep swinging. 

The former UL Bohemians, Richmond Women, Harlequins, Ireland and Barbarians No 8 believes golf is just the game to fill the competitive hole in her life after rugby.

1 How’s your golf?

I played the pro-am in the ISPS Handa World Invitational last week and I wish I’d played a bit better. I played a lot of golf at Mallow as a girl but other sports took over so I am only getting back into golf now. Rusty is probably the best way to describe it. But after retiring from rugby, golf is what I am looking at to fill that competitive void.

2 How did you get started in the game?

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My mam is a tennis coach and the tennis and golf club are all one at Mallow Golf Club, so you can get joint membership. So through tennis I got into golf and there was a great gang of us that used to go out and play loads of golf during the summer with friends.

3 Choose your weapon: Driver or putter?

I’ll go with the driver, even though my putting is slightly better at the moment. I am looking forward to getting back to making a good connection with the driver, because I love it. Now that I am sure much stronger than I was when I first started playing golf as a kid, I’d love to see that coming out on the golf course. We used my drive a few times in the scramble at Galgorm, which was really nice.

4 Links or parkland?

Well, I’ve never played a links. When I was younger it was all about playing all over north Cork, so I will stay away from the links for now until I am a bit more confident. I have heard so many great things about Ballybunion and the Old Head of Kinsale, I’d love to play those links some day.

5 When were you happiest on the golf course?

Playing in Mallow with a gang of friends during the summer as a child. With one of my best friends, Kate, we’d spend all summer playing and laughing and having a great time. It’s such a great thing for kids. We’d play two rounds a day just to be out all day away from our phones and screens. You’d have lunch and go back out for another round. We had brilliant summer days up there.

6 Who’s your sporting hero?

I had so many. I was always a rugby fanatic and when I was growing up only male rugby players were visible and, so you’d look up to Paul O’Connell, Axel Foley, Peter Stringer and all those Munster heroes. But then in other sports it was Serena and Venus Williams and Sonia O’Sullivan too, being from Cork. We were so proud of what Sonia achieved.

7 Name an opponent you especially admired.

I played in the Premiership in England for a long time and there were loads of players I admired. From 2017 onwards, England was such a powerhouse of rugby. I played with a lot of the great players, but players like Amy Turner and Sarah Hunter were fantastic and I really admired them. There were also other Irish players, like Cliodhna Moloney and Edel McMahon, and I absolutely loved coming up against them.

8 What’s your golfing
ambition?

It was such a lovely day out at Galgorm but any time any of us hit a bad shot we were fuming, so that competitive nature is still there even though I’ve now retired from rugby. So while I plan on staying in rugby forever as a coach or mentor, I want to be able to use golf to fill that competitive hole. Being able to spend a day out with friends playing golf is such a lovely thing too. So I want to grow as a player and be better than I was when I was younger.

9 Name your dream fourball and name the venue.

Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay. Does David Attenborough play golf? I’d bring him and then Ciara Griffin, my former Irish captain and teammate. I don’t see enough of her and she’s getting handy on the golf course. And we’d have to play at Mallow.

10 If you could change one thing about the women’s rugby, what would it be?

I’d love to see equal attendance at men’s and women’s games. It’s not going to
happen overnight but
hopefully we’ll get to see that one day.

11 If I gave you a mulligan in your career, what would it be?

I’d like to have been a professional player. That wasn’t an option when I was starting. I know the Irish girls have professional contracts, but there is still no professional league in Ireland so I wish there had been a professional league.

12 If you had just one more round to play, where would it be?

If it can’t be Mallow, I’d have to say the Old Course at St Andrews. That looks beautiful and special.

13 What’s your favourite par three?

The Quarry hole at Mallow, the 16th. I remember my first round of golf and I was hitting my shots all along the ground a few feet in front of me and then I came to the 16th and I was wondering how on earth I was going to avoid the quarry. But, lo and behold, the ball went straight into the air and landed on the green. So the 16th it is.

14 If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I cared less about what other people think. In a lot of
ways, I am very confident and open but sometimes I hold back too much and worry
too much about what other people think instead of just going for it.

15 What’s your most
treasured possession?

My collection of rugby jerseys from Mallow and then UL Boys, my first Munster Under 18 jersey, then Richmond and Harlequins and Gloucester and, of course, Ireland and the Barbarians. I have kept them all. One of these days I might frame them and put them all up on the wall.

16 If you could change
something about your golf, what would it be?

My iron play. When I was  younger I was always hoping just to land in the first cut of rough because it was easier to get a strike on the ball. So I’d love to be more confident from the middle of the fairway with my irons.

17 Who’s your favourite golfer of all time?

I met Tiger Woods when I
was very young when he came to Waterville to unveil the Payne Stewart statue. I’ve always followed him since. But growing up as a young Irish person who was into sport, Pádraig Harrington brought great exposure to the game of golf in Ireland. And now it’s lovely to see Leona Maguire’s up there so kids will have
the admiration and respect
for her as I had for Pádraig growing up.

18 What’s your idea of
perfect happiness?

A singsong in a pub with my friends. And if we are drinking out of a trophy, even better!


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