Falling In Love With The Game
If you like to tee off as the sun is rising, Alysha Del Valle would be a great addition to your group. Del Valle reports to NBC at 3 a.m. – at the latest – as part of her job as the station’s traffic anchor and special assignment reporter for the “Today in L.A.” morning show.
She helps viewers navigate the morning traffic and as often as she can when her shift is done, she heads to Long Beach for golf lessons with Troy Grant.
Del Valle has long been a part of the charitable community in Los Angeles. She was a longtime radio anchor before she went to ABC as a traffic anchor, a position she had for eight years, and she recently started a new job at NBC.
She always watched sports with her dad, Leo, but was never exposed to golf until she was a teenager. Not until her work afforded her the opportunity to play in numerous charity tournaments did she start playing more seriously. She figured the invitations kept coming, so she better figure out a way to maneuver around a golf course.
“You get invited to so many fundraisers and there’s so many causes that are important to me, so I couldn’t say no,” Del Valle said over a holiday latte recently. “Then the competitive side of me said, ‘If I keep coming to these, I should know a little.’ It really was a burden at first. You have to spend all this time, and you don’t even break a sweat. I was really mean to golf.
“My dad was a farm worker. He picked cotton and peaches (in central California) and when I was 13 we moved to East L.A. Even he made fun of golf. No one in Pico Rivera played.”
Her dad started playing golf via encouragement from a boss, and he was hooked. Alysha’s younger sister, Julie, started playing first and was a natural. It took Alysha a little longer.
“I was in high school and I thought golf was boring,” she said. “Tiger made golf cool. He was so good. I always watched sports with my dad, and I found myself watching the Masters. And then, I wanted an Arnold Palmer. And then I wanted to be in on this culture. You start learning the lingo.”
And the outfits. Once Del Valle started playing golf as a radio host, she became enamored with the fashion. And the maddening results that golf brings.
“It’s like a boyfriend,” she said laughing. “One day I love it, the next day I hate it. It’s too much.”
But for Del Valle, golf is always fun because of friends and family.
“My mom (Linda) said if you can’t beat them join them,” Alysha said. “So now we all play tournaments together. We play in her work tournament. We wear matching polos. We’re the corny family. The family that plays together stays together.”
Del Valle is good friends with George Lopez, knowing him since his standup comedian days. She saw how important golf was to him. She plays in the George Lopez Celebrity Golf Tournament, which benefits his foundation. She’s also friends with Oscar De La Hoya, and all of them play in each other’s golf tournaments.
Del Valle helped her good friend and former co-worker Phillip Palmer with his golf tournament for years. In October, she became an official co-host with him for the Phillip Palmer and Alysha Del Valle Golf Invitational benefitting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her daughter, Rainee Paloma, now 22, was a patient there.
“Children’s Hospital saved my daughter’s life,” she said. “It’s probably the most important golf tournament to me. When he asked me to help out, I said I would do whatever they asked for Children’s Hospital L.A. We were there, and we know what that’s like.”
Her daughter, a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii, was having problems as a child when she was in junior high. It turned out she had thyroid cancer, and her thyroid was removed.
Now that she’s co-hosting a tournament, her next goal in golf is to get other women involved in the sport.
“I say this all the time, I want to get more women into playing,” Del Valle said. “It’s pretty much male-dominated. There are a lot more women playing than 10-12 years ago when I started to try to take it seriously. It’s the same in many industries. Women are running stations and they should be represented. The golf course is where a lot of deals are made. There’s a lot happening on the golf course. Women need a seat at the table.”
She has a hole-in-one on her resume as well, on a par-3 at Angeles National during a tournament. Unfortunately for Del Valle, it wasn’t the hole with the Maserati prize. She did win a wedge, though.
She got her father a round at Turtle Bay in Oahu recently, and they played the round together. Golf is her guilty pleasure.
“He gets this look on his face like a goofy little kid,” Del Valle said. “I don’t have a Louis Vuitton bag, but I will spend money on green fees, so that my dad can say he played golf there on the ocean.”
Del Valle is 5-foot-2 and her Big Bertha driver – a Christmas present from her dad a few years ago – is her favorite club. It’s the short game that’s tricky, but she uses a Scotty Cameron putter George Lopez gave her.
Golf can sharpen your mental game and also test your fortitude. When Del Valle left ABC for NBC, her confidence grew as she left her comfort zone and accepted a new challenge. She said she’s going to reward herself with new golf clubs.
“It was scary to leave ABC,” Del Valle said. “I’m so happy at NBC. As a carrot to myself for being brave and making the leap to another station in the same market and working with strangers after leaving my TV family, it’s been better than I imagined. I’m treating myself to golf clubs this holiday season.”
A nice gift for the girl from Pico Rivera who never imagined she’d want golf clubs for Christmas.