Case Study

Lily May Humphreys: From Topgolf to Tour winner in 10 years

Words by
Dan Davies
Lily May Humphreys: From Topgolf to Tour winner in 10 years

England’s Lily May Humphreys is going places – and fast. She took up golf aged 10 at her local Topgolf range and then reduced her handicap from 44 to 5 in just two years. Now, aged 21, Lily has an impressive collection of national amateur titles to her name, as well as appearances in the Curtis Cup, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Youth Olympics.

In June 2021, Lily turned pro and quickly entered the winner's circle on the LET Access Series, the feeder tour for the Ladies European Tour. She took the next big step earlier this year by claiming her first LET title at the Joburg Ladies Open. Lily began using Clippd in early 2022 and is currently ranked fifth in this season’s Race to Costa Del Sol. 

Tell us about your start in golf?

Lily May Humphreys: My brother has a friend who works as a golf coach at Topgolf, so he took me up there because he could get me some range balls. Richard, his friend, had only just started coaching and he taught me at Topgolf through most of my golfing life. Topgolf emphasises the fun aspect. Sometimes you go to driving ranges and it's quiet and no one's really talking, whereas at Topgolf there’s music, everyone's chatting and it's really social. There are not many serious golfers there, I guess, so it's literally people having fun. It's a nice atmosphere for a kid to grow up in, and it was easy for me to get started.

How did you get so good, so quickly?

I'm just super competitive and I wanted to get better. When I first started, all the juniors at my golf club, Channels Golf Club in Chelmsford, were pretty good golfers. I wanted to compete with them, so I just worked hard to get my handicap down. When I first started with my 44 handicap, I played in everything – every monthly medal, winter league match, all the ladies medals. I'm quite a visual learner, so I learn more when I watch people than by reading. I try to see and repeat. I guess I instinctively copied things that were good. 

When did you set your sights on becoming a pro golfer? 

I started being homeschooled at the age of 12 to help my chances of becoming a pro golfer. It gave me more chances to play golf. I struggled in school, so we made the decision to get rid of the pressure of going away, playing tournaments and having to go back to school and catch up. 

I'm just super competitive and wanted to get better.

It obviously worked because you had a pretty amazing amateur career. What were the moments that really made you feel like you could make it as a professional? 

One of the highlights was winning the English Women's Amateur Championship in 2017. It was my first national win outside of the juniors and there were so many people playing that I looked up to. Alice Hewson was at university in the States so I didn't really get to play against her much, but pretty much everyone knew about her. Sophie Lamb, India Clyburn and Olivia Winning were also well known. I managed to beat them that week, which was a stepping stone in confidence for me, even though it was quite early in my amateur career. It was a big moment. 

You’re one of Clippd’s longest standing users. What do you like about the app?

I like how specific Clippd is in areas of your game. It's really precise with approach play and the short game. You can look at the different areas of your short game and see which bits are the worst or whether you have a problem at a certain yardage.

Do you think Clippd has helped you?

Yeah, I think it's helped a lot. I really like how it compares me to top LPGA Tour players. For a woman, it's quite hard to find those stats. What To Work On helps me to direct my practice because it lists my game in order, whether that's quick wins or importance to scoring. I have improved a lot in my short game and that makes a big difference in my scoring. Also, I thought I putted quite badly last season but when I looked at my Player Quality for putting in Clippd, it wasn’t that bad compared to the LPGA top-25. That made me think I'm not too far away, which gave me more confidence. 

How much has that added confidence been a contributing factor to what you’ve achieved in the last 12 months?

It definitely makes a difference because if you feel confident over a shot, it gives you more chance of hitting a good one. For my putting, even though I thought I wasn't putting that well, I wasn't as bad as I thought. So, if I missed one it wasn’t the end of the world.

I just thought if you're playing good and shooting good numbers, it doesn't make a difference what tournament it is.

You had a fast start to your professional career, winning your third tournament on the LET Access Series and going on to win the Order of Merit to earn your Ladies European Tour card.

I started off with two LET events and then I won in Belgium on the LET Access Series. I was there on an invite so that gave me full status for the rest of the season and it got me playing loads. It gave me a lot of experience of the professional atmosphere and confidence that I was comfortable as a pro. It was a really good decision for me. 

At the start of this year, you played a bit on the Sunshine Tour in Africa. How did you feel about your game going into Johannesburg for your first LET start of the season?

I was feeling pretty good about my game. I just thought if you're playing good and shooting good numbers, it doesn't make a difference what tournament it is. I felt pretty confident. I played the course the year before so I knew what my game plan was. 

Lily's Clippd scorecard from her final round at the Joburg Ladies Open, showing her Shot Quality scores for the all-important 16th hole

On the final day at the Joburg Ladies Open, you birdied 13 and 14 to go into a share of the lead. How did you feel when you birdied 16 to go in front?

I didn't really know where I stood. After I birdied the par-5 13th and the 14th, I then had a five-foot par putt on 15. I looked over and saw that I was in a three-way tie for the lead. I holed it and at that point, I was thinking if I could get to 12 under, I might have a good chance of winning. On 16, which is a dogleg left up the hill, I had 135 yards in. I hit my 9-iron just left of the flag, exactly where I wanted it. I got up there and it was 11 foot away. I wanted to make sure I hit my line with a bit of speed because on the back nine I'd been hitting my putts dead weight and they'd been falling off low. So I gave it pace and it went straight in the middle, which was a big relief.

Lily May's Clippd Round Insights from the final day at the Joburg Ladies Open, showing how sharp she was in her Around The Green (ARG) play and her consistency overall

To win on the Ladies European Tour in your first season and in your first event of the season is an amazing achievement. Have you reset your goals as a result?

I've always had goals. At the start of the season, I wanted to make sure I improved my putting and my Strokes Gained putting is at zero for the whole year. I haven't changed my goals too much. At the start of the year, I wrote down one win or more, so I'd like to try to win a couple more times this year if possible [Lily recently won her third professional title in a Rose Series event at Wentworth, England]. I try to set a lot of stats goals because if you achieve your stats goals, you should have a good year.

Finally, where do you want to be in five years?

On the LPGA, hopefully winning a major. I’d like to play in the Solheim Cup, too. There's a lot I wanna do.

Main image: Christian Jones / LET