pop hero; but is he a Golf idol?
He wowed the nation on Pop Idol, dated Jordan, Danced On Ice and is about to marry; but can Gareth Gates hit a golf ball? by CARLy CuMMINs PHOTOGRAPHy PeTe MuLLeR
Today’s Golfer Issue 247
young, spiky-haired, freckly-faced boy walks into the TV studio. He smiles at the inquisitive-looking panel of judges, showing off his boyish good looks and trademark gap in the front of his pearly whites. “What’s your name please?” Pop Idol’s notorious mean man Simon Cowell asks. Then comes the awkward silence. A look of anxiety streaks across the 17-year-old’s face. His lips begin to quiver and the letter G starts to splutter uncontrollably out of his mouth. “G, G, G, G, G, G, G...” The stunned panel sit in silence until judge Nicky Chapman responds sympathetically. “Take your time, it’s okay.” He tries again. “G, G, G, G, G, Ga, Ga, Ga, Ga, Gareth Gates,” he finally musters. It was one of the most memorable moments in the history of the ITV talent show Pop Idol and was to prove pivotal in turning Gareth Gates into a household name. His battle against a stammer along with an amazing singing voice won him
the hearts of the nation and the runners-up spoils (to pop star Will Young) in the firstever showing of the TV contest in 2002. Fast-forward seven years and Gates is walking into another studio. This time it’s the one TG photographer Pete has set up by a grand piano in the ballroom at the opulent Wentworth clubhouse. Once again Gareth is faced with a room of strangers and for an instant the same look of anxiety washes across his face. But it’s quickly replaced by a smile, a firm handshake and an almost splutter-free greeting. Gates has been part of the muchpublicised McGuire Programme for the past six years to overcome his stammering and it’s clear he’s made massive inroads into the issue. “Every day is a battle,” Gates reveals. “The pain and hell you go through is soul destroying. It affects your life in a massive way. My name has always been the hardest word to get out. When I was younger I used to call myself other names just to
COURSES THE BELFRY
buying A ticket to RydeR
A green fee for the infamous Brabazon course, mythologised by The Ryder Cup, costs £140. Is that money well spent? by sTeVe CARR phoTogRAphy Angus muRRAy
rather large, idiot-proof sign announces the ‘Golf Bag Dropoff’ area. I miss it and tote my sticks to the reception desk that gives you the feel of checking into a corporate hotel. “Morning, Sir, it’s a beautiful day out there. Can I help you?” The greeting comes from the friendly face behind the counter. I tell him I’m here for the 8am tee time on the ‘Brab’ and he issues me with an envelope with my name on containing my locker key and the code to get into The Brabazon Course’s very own locker room. No mixing with those less fortunate here. He also adds: “You should have a good day Mr Carr, the greens are 11.2 on the stimpmeter.” Eleven point two? Game on! Not only do you get a swanky changing room all to yourself with videos of the Ryder Cup teasing you in the background, but you get told the speed of the greens just to whet the appetite – or to put the fear of the good Lord into you… if you know what 11.2 means! If there was a Beaufort Scale for golf then 6 on the stimp would be classed ‘funereal’, 8.5 might be deemed ‘brisk’ for a club golfer, and 11.2, well… perhaps ‘slippery’ might do the trick. Not quite 13, which would be ‘Augusta-esque (bring bicycle clips)’, but searingly fast nonetheless. It all adds to the anticipation brought on by its modern legacy. As golf history goes, the past 20 years or so is just a mere drop in the lake in ➤
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NNORTH SOUTH EAST WEST
Tin Cup Alley The iconic 18th is one of those holes where you just have to stand there until you make the carry.
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