Kurt Darren, one of South Africa’s most successful artists, chats about the experiences he’s enjoyed on the course, writes WADE PRETORIUS in Compleat Golfer.
What are you playing off these days?
For the longest time I’ve been a 16 handicap, but I don’t get to play as much as I’d like to because I have a pretty full plate with two young kids and touring regularly. Golf remains my guilty pleasure – I absolutely love being out on the course with my mates, having a laugh.
Tell us a bit more about the pro-am scene.
I love being on the course with a professional. I’ve played with many, but one guy who sticks out is James Kingston – he’s such a gentleman and knows how to have fun during a pro-am or a non-competitive round. I love watching and learning from the pros.
Would you say you’re like the rest of us on the course?
The way I play is probably the same as most amateurs. There are great days and average ones, plenty of ups and downs. I’ve learned that without practising every aspect, from tee to green, you don’t have a chance of getting down to a single figure.
Which courses stand out?
I’m fortunate to play a lot of corporate days which take me to the best courses in the country. Leopard Creek is obviously amazing. I snuck in a round on a lovely course in Dallas during a trip to the US, but Anahita in Mauritius remains my favourite track abroad. I had one of the most enjoyable rounds there with Derek Watts and Percy Montgomery. I have a soft spot for Zwartkop – nothing beats the comfort of your home course.
What have you learned from playing golf all these years?
Golf teaches you a lot about people. You’re out there for long time and your character is instantly revealed. I recall a nasty incident where a guy slammed his putter into the green after missing a short putt – that’s a no-no in golf, you just don’t do that kind of thing.
So you’re a fully-fledged ‘golf nut’?
I’m obsessed with the Majors. I watch from the minute it comes on until the last putt is sunk. The highlights packages are good, but they won’t do – I need to follow the hunt. I couldn’t think of anything worse than missing out on Jordan Spieth’s dramatic recovery and his electric finish to win The Open.
What’s on your golf bucket list?
Getting down to a single-figure handicap – never say never – is up there. And playing the Old Course at St Andrews and crossing the bridge would be a dream come true.
Do you have an embarrassing story to share with us?
I’ve had plenty, but playing the day after the Nedbank Golf Challenge a few years back stands out. There were still a few people hanging around and the day was running a bit slow, so a crowd had developed. I stood over the ball, took a huge swing and hit nothing but the turf – the ball went nowhere. I could almost hear my playing partners thinking, ‘This is going to be a long, long day.’
And your trademark pants?
(Laughs) Yes, that’s become quite a thing. I was introduced to a zebra pair a while back, and since then I’ve worn mermaids, Superman and many other weird and wonderful pairs. I get ragged a lot, but I wear them with pride. They add colour and I must confess to even taking them overseas.
You’ve known Brandon Stone a long time.
Yes, our families go way back. When he was still at school, we played a round at Copperleaf and afterwards he kindly helped carry my clubs to my car. He popped them into the boot where I had some of my brand new albums. I offered him one and he replied: ‘No thanks uncle Kurt.’ I haven’t forgotten that moment, I wonder if he has.
What describes your game the best – lucky or unlucky?
Probably the best way to explain is to share what happened during one of my Shootout experiences. I was playing in the final group and in with a good chance of winning the event. On the final day, we had cameras on us on every shot and my game got worse and worse. Eventually, with us out of the running I hit a beautiful 8-iron on to a par three and sank the birdie putt – I immediately looked for the camera but it was focused on the adjacent fairway. Now nobody knows that I can actually hit it quite decently.
But it’s not just about golf with you, is it?
I love playing the game, but it also brings fantastic opportunities to help causes close to my heart. I’ve been supporting The Caring Daisies Golf Day for years, which helps hundreds of people on an annual basis. Eight years ago I started my own day with Darren Scott, and by getting sporting icons on board we have managed to donate financially and with resources to a number of deserving charities.
Which is more stressful – singing or teeing off?
I would 100% rather sing for a thousand people than tee off in front of a thousand people. Hell, I’d even sing naked rather than the alternative.
Kurt Darren is an award-winning singer, songwriter and television presenter, who has been dominating the airwaves since he released his first album in 1995. Since then he has won numerous South African Music Awards and taken his talents to the big screen in a number of locally produced films. Darren remains as popular as ever and his music has seen him gain fans around the world.
– This article first appeared in the September issue of Compleat Golfer