After an impressive amateur career, Caroline Masson turned pro in 2009 and joined the Ladies European Tour the following year. After winning her maiden title at the South African Women’s Open, she joined the LPGA Tour, where she has since lifted the Manulife Classic. She has also played on two European Solheim Cup teams – including that win in Colorado four years ago…
What’s the hardest thing about living away from home?
Not seeing my friends and family, of course. I’m handling it pretty well. I’ve been here for three years now. It’s good to be in the same time zone as the tournaments that allows me to prepare and play better on the LPGA Tour, but I get home to Germany a couple of times a year and my parents and brother come to visit a lot. I’m lucky because I have my boyfriend here and his family are great. It’s been an easy transition.
What do you miss most about Germany?
There’s a lot of differences, mainly cultural. I obviously miss German food, especially my mum’s home-cooked meals.
But you’re in a country that sells cheese in plastic squeezy bottles…
[Laughs] There’s a lot of stuff like that…
For me, the experience of going out to dinner is a little too rushed here. Going out at home, or in Europe, is a more social occasion. People actually sit and talk and enjoy a drink. Over here it’s get your food and get out of here. But it’s a very convenient life – especially for a professional golfer who travels and stays and a different hotel every week.
Is there anything you don’t miss about Germany?
The weather. It makes up for missing the good food.
What one piece of advice would you give a young European player looking to make the move to the US?
As a golfer you have to consider a few things because you have to be in a spot you like and feel content and comfortable, but at the same time it’s important to have convenience. That’s why I moved to Orlando, because it’s really close to the airport and I know I can be on my couch within 30 minutes of landing.
You need to have a good golf course, a good coach nearby and you need your team around you. It’s not that easy to find a place where you have all that so it really depends on what you want. Do you want more pleasure – to be on the beach, on the water – or do you want to just focus on golf and pick the spot that’s most convenient for you?
That’s what I’ve done for the last three years. It’s been really good to me. Maybe in the future I’ll move away but for now it’s perfect for my needs.
What made you get into golf?
My parents and grandpa played a bit. My dad is a tennis coach so I grew up playing more tennis than golf. I found golf boring.
My dad would take me out to have putting competitions when I was a little girl and I eventually progressed to a stage where I was being picked for the county teams in Germany so I had to practice hard, get a coach and really get into it.
It took me a little longer than other kids but the older I got the more I appreciated the challenge and what golf is all about.
You may have already answered this, but what would you be doing if you weren’t a golfer?
I wouldn’t be tennis player! No chance. I’ve spent so much time in the golf industry that I would definitely want to do something in golf – maybe in player management or something similar to that.
It’s a very hard question to answer because all I’ve done my whole life is play golf. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Your first European Tour win was at the 2012 South African Women’s Open and you had to wait almost four years for your LPGA breakthrough at the 2016 Manulife Classic. Which win meant the most to you?
Both were huge for me at the time. The European Tour win came in my third year, which I thought was a bit too long. I had maybe four or five second-place finishes before that. I felt like I had finally done it and proved to myself I could win, but then it took me another four years to get another win.
The LPGA Tour win was bigger in terms of the size of the tournament, and I beat a lot of really good players. Lydia Ko was there, as were Suzann Pettersen, Brooke Henderson.
Beating the best in the world that week was huge and showed I was working on the right things and made some good decisions. To answer your question, they were both very important wins, but in completely different ways.
You’ve played on a couple of Solheim Cup teams. How easy is it to make the transition from playing against your fellow Europeans each week to being on the same side?
It is very different but it’s not very hard to do. My first Solheim Cup was in Colorado, the first time a European team had won in the US.
It was the perfect week and I couldn’t have dreamt it any better than that. We had a great team with a really interesting mix that included six rookies.
It was fun to see how the veterans and the rookies got along, and everyone had a place in that team.
It didn’t quite work out as good as the first time but just to come together as a team and play for your country and for your continent means so much and I would say for 99 percent of players it’s the best week of the year.
Being a European player based in the US, what’s the atmosphere like in the weeks either side of the Solheim Cup?
There is a lot of teasing. In the weeks after we’re poking fun at each other – “We got the cup from you!” – but everyone knows it’s coming.
Everyone is really competitive and everyone wants to win, but after all it’s just another golf tournament and it’s a bit of fun.
It’s more about the spirit of that competition and the spirit of the game. It’s a very fair atmosphere, but it’s OK to give each other a little shit here and there.
Is it safe to assume a third straight Solheim Cup appearance is in your list of goals for 2017?
Yes – and to win on tour again. The last Solheim Cup was in Germany, so I put a little too much pressure on myself to make the team.
I don’t want to make that mistake again. It’s my goal to be on the team but basically it’s a result of how you played, so I really want to just focus and be prepared every time I tee up. I feel like I can plan my schedule a little better this year and play the golf courses I like and be 100 percent ready each week.
I’ll focus on playing well, getting myself in contention, and maybe get a win or two. The Solheim Cup will come as a consequence of that. It’s in the back of my mind – but it’s pretty far back.
You’ve got a T5 finish at the British Women’s Open and a T6 at the ANA Inspiration under your belt. Do you fancy a push at one of the majors this year?
The big goal is to win a major, of course. My favourite is the ANA because it’s in Palm Springs on one my favourite courses where I’ve had some good results. You want to prepare well for all the majors but that’s the one I feel I have the best chance to win so I’ll definitely make sure I’m ready for that.
If you could choose between a maiden major victory or to win every Solheim Cup point you play for – which would you take?
That’s a mean question! [Laughs]
It’s literally my job…
It’s very different. Obviously a major means everything for a career in golf, so that’s everybody’s goal. But Solheim Cup is more a thing of pride and playing for your team, for your country, so it’s very hard to compare.
Best case scenario, I win a major and then get a few points in a Solheim Cup win for Europe. I’ll take that. [Laughs]
And finally, you’re an ambassador for Ecco. What do you look for in a golf shoe?
Comfort first of all. I’ve always had sensitive feet and I used to get lots of blisters, but I’ve never really had that in an Ecco shoe – even a brand new shoe, and that’s wearing it straight out the box for 36, 72 holes or whatever. They also give me the balance and stability I need, because that is the weakest part of my swing and the shoe sorts that. Also, they have fun colours that match my outfits. Comfort, performance, stability and looks – the perfect package.