Jane Hardy is a feature writer who has interviewed a few of the big names from Arlene Foster to Mrs. Thatcher. She sat down with Alison Clarke, businesswoman and former model, to discuss sport, marriage, and her business.
Anyone watching the TV coverage of the European Ryder Cup team arriving for golf’s top group contest in Minneapolis last month couldn’t help but notice that the golfers and their partners looked not just talented but fashionable. Sport has of course become affiliated to the style business in many ways- think Formula 1, Premier League football, tennis and yes, golf. As Alison Clarke, wife of Northern Irish golfing star and team captain, explains, the Tom Cruise in The Right Stuff style shades were part of the deal. “The men wore Tom Fords which were provided, although the girls had to provide their own sunglasses.”
Although our boys did not succeed this time, having won the three previous Ryder Cups, Alison’s memories are good. She has an important role, of course, in the sporting highlight. The businesswoman who became Miss Northern Ireland in 1982 and runs ACA Models, is a kind of team mom. “Although it’s the same thing every two years, not every Ryder Cup is the same. It was a little bit more tense for the boys this time.” Alison adds that the team never gives up, though, and says she remembers the famous 2012 rollercoaster contest. “I was there in Medinah when we came back from over four down. Of course, this was the first time I’ve been here with Darren as captain. The previous couple of times, he was vice-captain.” In terms of stress reduction, it must be nice for Darren to have Alison around.
While not a golfer, Alison says she has a distinct role on and off the greens. “The role of the wife or partner of the captain is about support. There are 12 WAGs (wives and girlfriends) plus 5 vice-captains’ wives, so we walked the course together, which was important as there were some people who hadn’t been there before.” She adds that it’s a question of just being there and telling the other ladies what to expect.
The full interview can be found in the November issue of the Ulster Tatler, which is on sale now.