The leading wicket-taker in South African cricket Test history opens up about his love for golf.
As a cricketer you landed the ball on the penny at any given moment. Do you do the same with driver in hand and land it where you want every time?
No, this game is a lot more challenging. What people forget is that in cricket you’re developing from the age of five or six. And that’s where your consistency comes from. Sometimes I think it takes 20 years to find your proper swing and learn how to hit it straight. It becomes frustrating because when you’ve played international sport and you have the ability to control your bowling, be able to land it on a ‘tickey’ day in and day out, all of a sudden you play another sport where you cannot do as well.
What is your handicap?
I’m off a 1. It didn’t take long. The challenge is to keep progressing because you get to a plateau – of a five or six – and it becomes difficult to get down. I only started to improve my golf in the latter part of my career.
What is your best score?
I had a round of 65 at a golf day – eight ‘birds’ and a drop shot. In an official competition – a KwaZulu-Natal event – I shot a 69. And at a KwaZulu-Natal Amateur – all the guys from around the country were there like Haydn Porteous and Zander Lombard – I finished 15th or 16th.
What’s your favourite club in your bag?
I give the ball a decent whack. If my driver is good, I make the par-4s and par-5s into pretty short holes. Everyone loves to hit the driver. My putter comes into it too – that’s where it all counts.
What are some of the best courses you’ve played?
I’ve played on many nice ones overseas but once you come back to South Africa you say to yourself how lucky and blessed we are to have some fantastic courses. I’ve played in the Dunhill Championship at St Andrews – all three courses. Kingsbarns is beautiful, St Andrews because of its history and Carnoustie (I didn’t play well there), Loch Loman, The Belfry, Wentworth and courses in Australia whenever we toured, and in Dubai. In South Africa, I’ve played the Links at Fancourt, Leopard Creek – those are two of the best courses in the country. My home course is Cotswold Downs.
You’ve played in a number of pro-am and celebrity events. How do you rate them?
There’s no other game in the world where you participate alongside those who are competing to win a tournament. I sit up and watch the PGA Tour till late at night and the European Tour. So for me to be involved in any one of these events, see it unfold and be right in the mix is no doubt the best seat in the house.
Who are some of the top professionals you’ve played with over the years?
Thomas Bjorn at the Dunhill, George Coetzee, Charl Schwartzel, Retief Goosen and Jbe Kruger, but I haven’t played with Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.
What attracts ex-sportsmen to golf?
Golf can be played until you’re 65-70 and you can compete against different people no matter what age or handicap they are. You can be part of a team whether you are an 18 or scratch. The bottom line is the competitive nature of a sportsman attracts you to this game.
Who would play with you in your ideal fourball?
If you asked me a few years ago it would have been different. But I have played with Gary Player, so right now I would have to go with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. That would be special.