Charley Hull: Teenage Tigress opens up in documentary

By James BurridgeBBC Look East
The life of cheeky Charley

When I first met Charley Hull 10 years ago she had plenty of chutzpah.

There she was, this nine-year-old girl telling me where I was going wrong with my short game. Her personality even then was fairly full throttle.

That same year she would be crowned the Ladies Amateur champion at Turnberry, an event that saw 24,000 other women eliminated through qualifying.

Now she is 18 and few have made such an impact at her age.

The 1969 Open and 1970 US Open winner Tony Jacklin, a close friend of Charley's, believes her progress is similar to that of Rory McIlroy and that she's a world-beater who could change the face of women's golf.

Charley Hull

Laura Davies, the most successful British golfer of all time, expects it to be only a matter of time before Charley wins her first major, but doubts whether she'll be able to break through perceptions about women in sport against the men's game.

Rookie of the Year and a sixth-place finish on her European Tour debut last year, as well as being the youngest ever player to feature in the Solheim Cup, Charley's CV belies her years.

But the Kettering youngster is still a teenager at heart, she loves music, being with her friends and has tried to live her childhood as normally as possible.

It's not been straightforward though. Golf has been her life, the golf course her playground. She left school when she was 13 and all she has wanted to be was world number one.

Mature in some ways and immature in others, travelling the world is second nature to her.

There are two Charleys. On the golf course she's full of conviction. She knows what she wants and she's determined to get it. Whatever it takes.

Off it, she's fun to be with and quick witted and she doesn't suffer fools gladly. Conversation with Charley comes fast and furious and you have to be ready for it.

When we're not filming she can often ask me what feels like a million questions in a few minutes.

It's a sign of her insatiable attitude - she says what she sees.

Charley's dad Dave is with her everywhere, always in the background, the calming voice behind the scenes.

He introduced her to the game when she was two, has never left her side and still accompanies her on tour.

But he keeps his distance. He wants Charley to stand on her own two feet and make her mistakes in her own time. He just wants to support her and encourage. Not dictate.

It won't be long before he lets Charley travel on her own, but says it's not time yet. And he's not the only one. Mother Bashenka and her sisters provide a loving family support network.

The programme we've made with Charley shows what it takes to create a champion. From tee to greens, fitness and photoshoots, family life and famous friends.

At times she's spiky, adamant in her attitudes and when you see her in such a pressurised arena you appreciate what she's taking on.

She admits she's impatient to the point of exhaustion. It sometimes feels she's impetuous, but she's learning to control both of these mannerisms.

The question now is, can she deal with the attention and pressure that inevitably lies ahead of her?

I think she's acutely aware of what the future holds. Her poker face is impressive, she knows the world is watching and yet she is still remarkably calm.

People are talking about her, and she knows it. In America she is very popular with the crowd.

They like her carefree attitude and guts and her gumption on the course.

With a management team behind her and a first sponsorship deal signed, Team Hull is proving a very sellable brand.

The documentary Charley Hull: Teenage Tigress will be on BBC One in the East of England at 16:30 BST on Sunday, 20 April and on the iPlayer.

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