WHEN Cherie Alison (nee Byrnes) is asked what possessed her to quit her club professional’s job on beautiful Hamilton Island in Queensland’s Whitsundays, she provides an easy answer.
“It was a good lifestyle, but living on an island has a certain lifespan,” says Cherie, who is the golf operations manager and club professional at Port Kembla Golf Club.
“I was at Hamilton Island Golf Club just under two years and left to be close to my family and to give Mark (husband) the chance to get back in the golf industry.
“Mark is currently doing his traineeship at The Ridge Golf Club.”
It’s been two years since Nelson Bay’s favourite daughter and Mark dragged themselves off the tropical island and headed for the cooler climes of Port Kembla, 90 kilometres south of Sydney.
Life is good for the Alisons especially after Mark, a Kiwi, earned considerable brownie points by declaring his allegiance to the New South Wales rugby league team.
“We went to the State of Origin for his birthday and I was interested to see who he was going to support,” Cherie said. He ended up supporting New South Wales, which is nice.”
Yes, but whose corner is he in when the Wallabies play the All Blacks?
“It’s quite good when rugby on,” Cherie added. “We’ll be sitting there watching the game and I really don’t mind if Australia or New Zealand wins because one of us will be happy.”
Cherie, 37, turned professional at the age of 24 and played the Ladies European Tour (LET) for eight consecutive years when a shoulder injury cut short her career.
Her best finish on the LET was a third place in the 2005 Algarve Ladies Open in Portugal.
If she could turn back the clock, she would have joined the play-for-pay ranks at a much younger age.
“I was 24 when I turned pro and feel I could have gone when I was younger,” she said.
“But back in those days no one talked about turning pro and playing overseas.”
Cherie believes many of the elite amateur players followed her lead after she turned pro.
“A lot of the other girls watched what I did and all of a sudden they were turning pro.”
I ask Cherie if she has any other regrets.
“If I had my time over again I would spend more time working on my short game,” she said. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens, but I wasn’t getting up and down enough.”
While playing golf for a living has its advantages, Cherie believes it hindered her risk-taking abilities.
“Because of golf I now have a fear of playing different sports, which I never use to have when I was younger,” she explained.
“When I was playing on the tour, I didn’t want to do anything in case I was injured. I would go into my shell when it came to doing adventurous things and I still feel like that today, but I am trying to overcome it.
“I went snow skiing in New Zealand recently and was conscious of falling over and getting hurt.
“Now I am making myself do things to see if I can do it.”
Growing up, Cherie was a talented dancer and had dreams of becoming an entertainer.
“I used to dance a lot when I was younger,” she said. “I should have learnt to sing better because I was reasonably good at dancing.
“If I had had a better (singing) voice I would have liked to have gone down the entertainment path.”
In brief: Cherie Alison:
When I was a child I wanted to be … an entertainer.
You wouldn’t know it, but I am very good at … ten pin bowling.
You may not know it, but I am no good at … tennis.
What I see when I look in the mirror … someone who has experienced and achieved a lot.
My favourite piece of clothing is … hoodie – because it’s colder down here.
I drive a … Ford Mondeo.
People describe me as … reliable, honest and friendly.
My favourite golf course is … Turnberry.
My worst habit is … talking through my husband’s favourite TV shows.
What I fear most is … failure.
What really makes me laugh is … our new puppy Bruce.
My five-year plan is … is to get higher in golf club management – GM.
My greatest wish is … for people with an illness to find a cure quickly.
If there’s one thing I know it’s … I have been brought up well.
My guiltiest pleasure is … chocolate and wine.
At home I cook … a mixture of Australian, Italian and Asian meals.
One topic I avoid talking about is … I will talk about anything.
I wish I had … made more putts on tour.
I wish I hadn’t … needed shoulder surgery in 2007 as this led to me finishing my playing career earlier than I thought I would.
My motto in life is … don’t leave anything until tomorrow.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was … packing my bags to head to Tour School in 2000 by myself, including having no caddie on my bag.
My life in five words … family, friends and working hard.