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Actress Kathryn Newton is spending her time on strike golfing. Not golfing as in retirees leisurely swinging clubs, but golfing as in competition with some of the best in the game. "To do anything well, you have to commit," Newton says. "Acting always came first. To tell you the truth, it's a lot easier than golf." This week, she's set to compete in the celebrity match at the Ryder Cup, as the only woman playing.
It's perhaps a surprising pivot for those who don't know Newton—or who have only seen her in Ant-Man, or Big Little Lies, or maybe even Supernatural. But for the 26-year-old actress, who has been on screen since she was 4 years old, golf has always been in her life. Before the strike, she tells Town & Country, "I was filming a movie in Ireland, and I was golfing every weekend—there's no better way to see where you're shooting. And then boom, they say the strike is happening; we're shutting down. I didn't wanna go home—I just wanted to keep playing golf!"
She has continued to play golf and is taking the sport seriously. (As we speak one September morning, she's driving to her tee time.) "It's nice to go back to my roots," she says, "I just was giving everything to this role. Now I'm like, 'oh, wait, you're not just an actor—you're also a pretty good golfer!'" Newton's mission, she says, is to make golf cool. The only problem, she adds self-deprecatingly, is that "I'm not cool and I think golf is already cool." Newton continues, "I don't know if it'll help, but I wanna let people know that it's no secret that golf is a cool, fun game and you can play it too. You don't have to be really good at it! You just have to try, you just have to get outside."
For years, the sport has been a boon for Newton's confidence and mental health. Growing up in Florida, she started playing around age 4. She grew up on the Granda Golf Course in Coral Gables, she says, and her dad would take her hitting after school. At 8, she began playing in tournaments. "I was more interested in being friends with everybody," she jokes, "I definitely have a lot of second-place trophies." But by the time she got to high school—Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California—she started playing more competitively and started winning. Her experience on the golf team, Newton says, was a "game changer."
"It's a really humbling sport, but it also is the best thing in the world when you work hard at something and you do well," she says. There was an opportunity for her to play at the collegiate level, but when she was being recruited for USC's golf team, she was also filming Big Little Lies. Up until then, she had been able to balance both her passions—but when she was cast as Abigail Carson, the daughter of Reese Witherspoon's character, Madeleine, she decided to go all in on acting.
"I remember in high school, I had one match where I shot five under on a nine hole max. I remember feeling like, oh, I figured out golf, I could do this, I know how to win now! I don't think I've never done that again," Newton says. "My point is that it's so difficult to play at a high level, and to maintain that kind of excellence—that is so hard. Acting, I give everything every time I have a character, whether it's the lead or supporting; you go above and beyond. As an actor, I'll do [a job] for six months or two weeks and then I go on to the next! But to be a professional golfer, it's beyond a sacrifice that I don't even understand—being good is one thing, but being good every day is another."
Newton knows a thing or two about success. In addition to her recent turn as Cassie Lang as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, she has starred in blockbusters including Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,and more. And throughout her career, she has approached acting with a golf mentality. As she says: "You gotta move on, you have to let it go, you have to be present," but also: "When you hit a good shot, no one can take it from you."
The Ryder Cup, however, is what she's currently excited about. "It's the biggest stage for golf, so to get the opportunity to be there—as a fan of the game, that's going to be amazing. And number two, that I get to play in the celebrity all-star match is something my dad will talk about for the rest of his life!" She's been invited to play in the Cup for the last two years, but due to filming commitments, has never been able to attend. She's also appeared in a number of other high-profile tournaments in the last two months, including the Omega Masters in Switzerland and the Wentworth Championship in London. Next month, she'll also compete in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
In between the tournaments and select fashion week appearances, you'll most likely find Newton on a golf course working on her skills. When she's home, she's up bright and early—her preferred tee time is 6 a.m., when it's still dark outside, and dew is still on the green—joining her dad on the golf course, maybe accompanied by her dogs, who act as her caddies. When the strike ends, Newton plans to get back to acting. "My golf game will diminish, it won't be as good as it is right now. But I'll keep trying to grow the game," she says. "But at this time, with this down time, I'm gonna just play as much golf as possible."
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