Next year, Kathryn Newton is set to face off against a time-travelling supervillain.
A leading role in the multi-billion-dollar Marvel cinematic universe marks the latest highlight in the 25-year-old’s blossoming acting career: She will star as Cassie Lang, daughter of the titular shrinking superhero in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which comes out in February.
But before there were short superheroes, there was the short game. Holding clubs before she could walk, Newton’s life-long passion for golf made her a natural fit for the fabled Alfred Dunhill Links Pro-Am tournament staged at St. Andrews in October.
Together with England’s Matt Wallace, a four-time winner on the European Tour, she fought through blustery conditions as the duo recorded a respectable 118th place finish among a star-studded field of 167 pairs.
“Acting’s way easier than golf,” Newton told CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer, at the event.
“I (don’t) say that lightly because I have respect for my acting and my fellow actors. When I see the pros out here today, I feel like they’re magicians or something.
“I see a lot of similarities in the mental aspect of it, but I just think golf is so hard and to really be good at it, there’s no sport like this. The elements today in Scotland … I don’t even know how we’re supposed to physically do it.
“I’m pretty blown away by the pros and I think I’m going to stick to acting.”
Big Little (Golf) Lies
The fact that the choice between a career on screen or on the fairways was once a very real dilemma is a testament to Newton’s golfing prowess.
Growing up on a golf course in Florida, she was a regular competitor in tournaments by the time she was eight. At Notre Dame High School, her five-under score set a new nine-hole school record en route to three team league championships.
Having shot a 69 at one 18-hole event and regularly shooting in the 70s, in 2012 she had been set to try for a spot at the U.S. Women’s Open, Newton told Golf Digest in a 2015 interview. Yet after landing the leading role in the fourth instalment of the horror film franchise “Paranormal Activity,” she pulled out of her sectional qualifier.
A burgeoning acting career, with leading roles in drama series “Big Littles Lies” and “The Society,” soon put regular competitive golf on ice.
When she’s fizzing drives at her favorite course in the world and being complimented on her swing by major winners Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, does Newton ever wonder: “What if?”
“Oh yes, and then I think, ‘Thank goodness I’m not,’” she laughed. But give her the choice between scooping an Oscar and lifting a major, and the answer is a little different.
“Win a major, for sure,” Newton said.
“Acting is such a different thing, if you win that’s incredible, but in golf there’s something so commendable because it’s all you: You did it, no one can take it from you, no one can doubt you, it was your day.
“Of course I’d love both but I think an Oscar or any of those things, it’s not a score on a scoreboard, it’s just different. It’s very subjective, I don’t even know how you really win one, there’s no ‘you have to shoot this many better than the other person.’”
Sinking putts, kicking butts
The Pro-Am also included a four-ball event, which saw Newton ally with Matt Wallace, Matt Fitzpatrick and Susan Fitzpatrick, mother of the 2022 US Open winner.
Newton told CNN her dream four-ball line-up would be Rory McIlroy, Robert MacIntyre, Billy Horschel and Maverick McNealy, with Tiger Woods narrowly missing out.
At The Open Championship in July, the stage for Woods’ emotional, potentially concluding, walk down the Old Course’s 18th fairway, the Hollywood star was left starstruck when asking the 15-time major winner and McIlroy for a selfie.
“I had no choice, I had to,” she said.
“The words didn’t really come out of my mouth, but they understood.”
Having now made three visits to St. Andrews, Newton is already eyeing another trip to the “home of golf” for the Women’s Open in 2024. The event returns to the Old Course for the first time since Stacy Lewis’ victory nine years ago, after being held there in 2007 and 2013.
“I’m so excited,” Newton said. “I would love to be here when the women play here because I think they would just rip this course up.
“This is one of the best places in the world to play, so I feel excited for the women to get out here and show the world how amazing they are.”
And as the women’s game continues to grow, Newton has a message for young girls yet to pick up a club.
“If you’re out there and you haven’t played before and you think that this sport’s for old people, it is, but it’s also for you. I promise it’s fun,” she said.
“I’m so done with the question or the surprised face when I’m at an event like this and they’re like, ‘So what are you doing here?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m playing’ and they go, ‘Oh.’
“That has to change. It shouldn’t be surprising that I’m going to play and most likely kick your butt.”