Six-time Solheim Cup player, two-time Solheim Cup Captain, major champion, and PGA Professional, Alison Nicholas MBE, has been honoured by the PGAs of Europe with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding achievements and contribution to the game.
The Award signifies the outstanding performances, leadership and representation of the game that the victorious 2011 Solheim Cup captain has shown across her career and the contributions she has made to the women’s game.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Nicholas during the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress Gala Awards Dinner at Hotel Vila Galé Lagos on Portugal’s Algarve, where she received a standing ovation from the watching Annual Congress delegates and International Team Championship Competitors.
Nicholas follows in the footsteps of previous winners Seve Ballesteros, who was awarded the honour posthumously in 2011, and Tony Jacklin, who received his award on the same stage in Portugal in 2012.
“I’m overwhelmed to be honest, I certainly didn’t expect it, but I’m honoured and humbled to received it,” explained Nicholas. “It blows me away to think my name is amongst those previous recipients.
“Seve Ballesteros was my hero, when you saw him play, his tenacity and sheer charisma was something that we all looked up to and aspired to, so to receive an award he’s also received is incredible.
“Jacklin obviously pioneered the modern Ryder Cup era and taught Europe to win and believe in themselves – I took all those things on board when I took on the Solheim Cup captaincy and wanted to aspire to do the same as him. Both these winners were an inspiration to me so to receive the award after them is unreal, I can’t get my head around it to be honest.”
Chief Executive of the PGAs of Europe, Ian Randell, presented Nicholas with her award alongside PGAs of Europe Chairman, Sandy Jones, after a special message of congratulations from a fellow player and friend with whom she had formed a formidable Solheim Cup partnership with in her playing days, Laura Davies.
“What I’ve done in the game and my contribution to the Solheim Cup has only come because I’ve had the support and help from other people,” said Nicholas. “I hand this award to my family and my friends and to professionals that have helped me achieve all I’ve done.”
Nicholas’ playing career began when she turned professional in 1984 and joined the Ladies European Tour where she went on to take 18 professional wins, including the 1997 US Women’s Open at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon, US.
Her determination, drive and playing record caused her to become a stalwart member of the LET and a respected regular in six Solheim Cup matches from 1990-2000, notably on the winning side in the ’92 and ’00 matches.
In 2003 and 2005 Nicholas was a non-playing assistant captain for Sweden’s Catrin Nilsmark, but returned to the tournament in 2009 as the Captain for the matches taking place at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, US, where only two wins from the European side in the final day’s singles allowed the US team to retain the trophy.
But things were destined to change at Kileen Castle, Ireland, in 2011 when Nicholas showed her distinctive mettle and determination to pick her and her team up to come out on top by 15 points to the USA team’s 13.
“The last 20 minutes were just so tight – it looked like the Americans were going to win it and then suddenly the last three matches turned around. It was just amazing. I’ve talked about it with many people and lots have said it was the most exciting Solheim Cup they’ve ever seen. The most important thing for me was to keep calm, keep that belief - it was a sensational victory and the players were incredible.”
Since then Nicholas has retired from her playing and captaincy roles and is now a PGA Professional coach in the outskirts of Birmingham, UK, looking to develop the future stars of the game and pass on the lessons she has learned from an outstanding career at the forefront of the women’s game in Europe.