Our Sporting Life SA

A South Australian website publication that delivers a passionate and unique insight into SA Sport

Disneyland Golfer

A trip to Disneyland was the bribe a young Alison Lee needed!

This is the enticement her father used to convince their daughter to do something she wasn’t initially keen on.

For LPGA star Lee – who is in Adelaide to play the Women's Australian Open from February 15-18 - this was the motivating factor behind her father John for her to concentrate playing golf.

Back when Lee was five years of age she first visited a course with her golf enthusiast father and would run around the green with a club in the air rather than hitting the ball.

Her father told Lee "if she practices and concentrates he would take her to Disneyland" - a bribe she is very thankful for now.

"My dad did bribe me at the start," Lee told Our Sporting Life SA.

"When I was between the ages of 6-10, I had a season pass to every amusement park in Southern California.

“He says that I did not like golf much when I first started, so he gave me something to play for to get me excited.

"When I played in a few small tournaments when I was around 7 or 8, I started to love the competition and enjoyed playing more.

"He was definitely a key to motivating me to pick up the game and I am thanking him for that now.

This year, the 22-year-old will compete in her fourth season on the LPGA tour.

Her young career has already seen the Las Vegas local earn over US$1.2million in prizemoney with five top ten finishes in 2016 - her best season to date - this also included a career best second place finish at the KEB Hana Bank Championship where she lost a playoff to Carltota Ciganda on the first extra hole.

Lee's career kickstarted when aged 14, qualifying to play in the 2009 US Open and finishing T26 (tied for 26th) an experience she will never forget.

"It was the coolest thing ever," Lee said.

"To qualify, I actually had to go through a sudden death playoff and made birdie, birdie to win.

“I remember standing in the locker room and when Lorena Ochoa walked by, one of my friends and I could not stop giggling.

"My dad caddied for me that week as well and it meant so much. It was one thing to qualify, but to make the cut and finish well was a super cool experience. It was an insight to what it would be like to be a professional golfer and was a dream come true.

Lee was able to score eight eagles in 2017 ranking her 13th on Tour but she acknowledges the short game as being her biggest strength where she ranked fourth in 2015 and fifth in 2016 for putting averages.

"My putting and short game has always been my biggest strength," Lee said.

"I have actually used the same putter for about 11 years now and I don’t see that changing any time soon, hopefully there are more eagles in 2018.

After the 2017 season Lee made sure she put her clubs down and enjoyed some time away from the course and even went skiing.

"This off-season was a lot of fun," said Lee who can eat a dozen Sprinkles Cupcakes in one sitting.

"For Christmas, my family and I spent a week in Utah to visit my aunt, go skiing and spend time with family.

“We never get snow in California so this was a super exciting trip for us.

"Over New Year’s, a lot of my friends and I went to Las Vegas for the weekend to celebrate as well.

"I do not get a lot of time with family and friends during season, so I always try and plan a few fun trips.

"I also got a puppy so that took up a lot of my time and energy!

Off the course Lee is also quite an acclaimed student having graduated in a communications degree at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles).

Lee admits struggling with the demands of juggling golf and study at the time but a major factor behind her finishing the degree was due to good friend and LPGA player Michelle Wie who also followed a similar path graduating from Stanford in 2012.

"Not only do I look up to Michelle, but she is a great friend," she said.

"Her graduating from Stanford University is what gave me the idea to finish at UCLA and get my degree.

Lee also confessed that she was in sorority when at UCLA, Delta Gamma - one of the oldest and largest women's fraternities in the nation.

Delta Gamma pride themselves on a strong sisterhood and having a chapter filled with motivated, intelligent, and compassionate women.

From February 15-18 Lee will make her first visit 'down under' to play in the Australian Open on the beautfiul Kooyonga Golf Course in front over 30,000 local fans.

"I have never been to Australia," Lee said.

"I’m excited to get there and play in my first Australian Open!

For tickets to the 2018 Women's Australian Open please click here- http://www.golf.org.au/wao-ticketing

Images- Supplied