b a r e m y s ou l
‘I’d say thIs has been the best year of my lIfe’
The English star on racing Poulter, the police and being a dad.
Words by PETEr MAsTErs PHoToGrAPHy by MAuricE lAcroix
What would your superpower be? In the film Caddyshack, there’s a guy who has the ability to read greens. He goes into some kind of trance and can see a grid that appears over the grass so that you can see all the slopes. That would be pretty useful. What’s the closest you’ve come to death? Chasing Ian Poulter down a street in Milton Keynes once upon a time. You can’t get in trouble for this can you? Poults was quicker than me and I quickly realised I wasn’t quite the driver I thought I was. I didn’t crash or anything, but the car wobbled a bit and that was enough to scare me. What is your oldest memory? Being a page boy at my uncle’s wedding and wearing shoes that had tassels on them. I must have been two or three, but there’s no photographic evidence that I know of, thank goodness. I think I thought the shoes were rather cool at the time. What has been your greatest kiss? It was in some dodgy lay-by with Kate, the lady who later became my wife. I’ll never forget it because the police pulled up behind us and knocked on the window. “Are you all right luv?”, they asked and quite obviously, they weren’t talking to me. What is your worst trait? A two-year itch with caddies. Actually, I wouldn’t say I’m bad with caddies, but I’ve been going through a funny patch of late. What trait do you most dislike in others? Inconsistency. Your mate one day and they blank you the next. When you’re on Tour that’s something you can come across. It’s a bit of a travelling circus and you can’t get on with everybody. It’s just not knowing where you stand with some people.
12 FEBRUARY 2010 // www.golf-world.co.uk
Do you have any pet hates? Spectators who jingle the coins in their pocket and don’t know they’re doing it. It happens a lot. You back off and say “excuse me, do you mind not jingling your coins?” and they look behind them as if you must be talking to someone else. What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you? Steve Beddow said on Sky that I now have a slight American twang to my accent. When did you last cry and why? About 10 minutes before Leo was born, I was just overwhelmed with the emotion of what was about to happen. It caught me by surprise because it was a 36-hour labour, there’d been a lot of hanging around and then all of a sudden things progressed so quickly. I freaked out a bit, especially when there was a lull just before the birth. It’s then that the meaning of it all hits you. When were you happiest? I think now to be honest. The first few months after having the baby you think you’re happy, but times were tough then. Now it’s all much easier. I’m really loving being a dad, I love family life and I feel that my golf is on the right track. I’d say this has been the best year of my life, even though my golf hasn’t been amazing and that is how I always judged it in the past.
Short & Sweet Have you ever said “I love you” and not meant it? No, I haven’t. I’m now in my first and only love.
If you could edit your past what would you change? Turning up to the Dutch Open the week after I turned pro. In hindsight, I’d have taken a week or two to have a breather. I don’t regret turning pro, but I should have had a rest after The Open. It started a chain of events and missed cuts that was weird.
What does love feel like? Grounding and secure. Is that really soppy?
What do you most dislike about your appearance? I would say my ears, but my little boy has inherited them.
Dog or cat? Dog. What is your favourite smell? Hot tar. Who’d play you in a movie of your life? I’d like Vince Vaughn to do it because he’s a favourite, though I’m not sure he relates exactly to me. Are there any words you overuse? Probably ‘awesome’ now that I’m spending too much time in America.
Is there anything that frightens you? Death. Not so much my own, but other people’s. I’ve had a few experiences of losing people close to me and that can be hard.
Who’d you go as to a fancy dress party? I’ve been to one as a gangster and that was brilliant fun.
Would you rather be – clever and ugly or thick and attractive? Thick and attractive and sign myself back up for school. You only have to be able to do one thing well and you should be all right.
Do you have any unappealing habits? Maybe you’ll have to ask my wife. A penchant for lay-bys perhaps!
What is your guiltiest pleasure? A very big Friday night out with the lads once a year. Guys from school. We go away once a year to places like Vegas, Orlando, South Africa, the Bahamas. We play golf, but it’s more about the partying. The winner is the best at playing hungover. If you had a time machine would you go forward or back? I’d go forward just to see what the world is coming to. I’d like to know how careful we really have to be right now, that’s why I do try to offset my carbon footprint. A quote that you’ve never forgotten. The ‘if’ poem by Rudyard Kipling – the one that talks about if you can treat those two imposters the same you’d be a man my son. My father gave me that poem so it’s even more poignant. Golf or sex. If you had to give up one, which would it be? I’m already counting the days when I can give up golf. I’m more into my life than I am into golf. I’m still young, but the thought of being successful enough to retire and be with the family has already crossed my mind. I can see a future when I’m not playing golf.
The Starter ‘I don’t regret turnIng pro, but I should have had a rest after the open’
At impact Keep your chest and body turning through the ball to promote a consistent and authoritative strike.
No hands b y T h o n g c h a i Ja i de e eURoPea n ToUR W inneR
Take any hand action out of your chipping stroke. When you are moving the club away from the ball, simply work your body and shoulders – don’t cock your wrists.
HIT CHIPS WITH AUTHORITY
If there is one thing I notice more than anything with higher handicappers, it’s that they use too much hand action when chipping. The moment you break your wrists, the chances of getting a
28 February 2010 // www.golf-world.co.uk
consistent strike are reduced. Start with a square clubface, with the ball just back of middle in the stance, and then move the club back smoothly without cocking the wrists.
The power and consistency comes from working your body and shoulders. Keep the wrists firm so that the shaft stays in the same position in relation to the triangle formed by your
arms and shoulders. Simply turning your chest and body through the shot in a crisp positive manner will help you to strike your chips with much more authority. n
S H O RT & l O ng g A M E
Maintain the angle As Fred Couples shows, the position of your left wrist at address should be the same at the top of the backswing.
© GolF diGest
by jiM flick
jAck nick l AUS’ cOAcH
There’s a common trait I’ve noticed in the swings of nearly all the great players, from Harry Vardon and Bobby Jones to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods: The position of the left wrist at the
top of the swing is consistent with its address position. Fred Couples clearly demonstrates this above. His left-hand grip is noticeably cupped at address, and it’s still cupped at the top, which
allows him to release the club fully through impact without fear of hooks (flattening the left wrist closes the face). Likewise, good players who start with a flat left wrist at address have a flat
left wrist at the top. Starting with your left wrist cupped and flattening it going back, or vice versa, can lead to inconsistency. For a reliable swing, maintain your left-wrist angle. n www.golf-world.co.uk // February 2010
Words by JoHN HUGGAN PHotoGrAPHy by crAiG JoHNstoN, Getty
his card, the state of the game and putting life in perspective.
As the golden bear celebrates his 70th birthday, we celebrate his life in pictures. Words by JACK NICKLAUs WIth gUy yoCom
PhotogrAPhy by gEtty, thE NICKLAUs fAmILy
’ve been fortunate over my career to make a little history on the 16th hole at Augusta National. But one day last spring, I stood on that tee box, and I caught myself doing a little scorecardwatching, not scoreboard-watching. Playing a casual round with some friends, I found myself four under par and on the cusp of shooting my age, 69, or better at a place that has meant so much to me. I didn’t make history; I just made a bad swing and a splash. A double bogey ruined my score but not my day, as I shot 70. (I’d shot my age for the first time at 64 in Hawaii.) As the year wore on and I played my usual one round or so a month, I found myself trying to take the game a little less seriously. Not that this has been easy. Almost 4½ years removed from my last competitive round and staring down my 70th birthday on January 21, I still find it difficult getting over, well, being me. See, as much as I love the game, golf was my vehicle to competition. And I love to compete.
68 FEBRUARY 2010 // www.golf-world.co.uk
That’s why the poor shots still sting and bring out an “Oh, Jack!” and the good ones, especially those that come on the 18th hole with a close friend pressing me, bring on a smile and a wink. I’m finding now, more than ever, that the game of a lifetime can give you the time of your life without ever striking a shot. I find myself having lunch and conversation with friends at The Bear’s Club in Florida, with no tee time in sight. I’ve recently crossed paths with old friends such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Billy Casper and Jackie Burke. I thoroughly enjoy working with kids, whether it’s The First Tee or the lesson tee with my grandkids. And, of course, I’m constantly energised by designing courses around the world. Still, I’ll likely bring in some friends to play Augusta again in the spring. When that happens, you can bet I’ve got a little goal in mind when I step on the 16th tee. See, golf can still be my vehicle to competition, and it can always be a joy ride. n
www.golf-world.co.uk // FEBRUARY 2010
© GolF diGEst
NICKLAUS AT 70
Do you have any pet hates? Spectators who jingle the coins in their pocket and don’t know they’re doing it. It happens a lot. You back off a...