Former Proteas spinner Paul Harris doesn’t take his golf too seriously but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to go all out to beat you, writes WADE PRETORIUS in Compleat Golfer.
What kind of golfer are you?
I don’t get too worked up on the course and I don’t take my game too seriously. Obviously, the most important thing is to have fun because you are out there for four to five hours at a time. I started playing about four or five years ago but I’d say the bug has now bitten properly.
So you don’t form part of the Proteas stars who are also brilliant golfers?
No ways. I hardly ever played when we were on tour, probably once or twice. You can’t compare me with Jacques Kallis – I mean, I don’t get to hit balls on the range or play six times a week.
Would you be able to beat, say, AB de Villiers in a matchplay ‘derby’?
Of course. He’s not a scratch golfer as the myth would have you believe. I’d put my handicap – I’m a 12 – to really good use and come out on top. I don’t get beaten too often.
Where do you play most often?
I play out of Zwartkop but I only get out once or twice a month, usually for golf days or with my golf group. There’s a bunch of us who are really into the game. It’s good banter and I’d say our form is as good on the course as it is in the pub afterwards.
Is it safe then to assume that you aren’t part of the hole-in-one club?
I’ve lipped out twice but yes, you are correct.
Which courses have stood out for you in your travels?
The best track locally is without a doubt Leopard Creek – it’s just such a special place. I’ve played a few tracks abroad but Merion in the US, where Justin Rose won the US Open, was a real beaut. I shot 90 playing medal, which I’m quite proud of.
How much golf do you watch on TV?
I love watching it and try to follow as much as possible. Having a young family, the weekends are normally quite busy but you’ll find
me on the couch on Sunday watching some golf and then usually falling asleep before the end!
You were a celebrity at the recent Omeya Golf Club day in Namibia. How was that?
Mark Boucher knows his golf and he said, ‘Harrow, that’s one you need to play.’ I trust his judgement and signed up immediately. We had a fantastic time on a really good golf course. Bouchie said it was good, but I was blown away by it. The members looked after us so well and I hope I did enough to earn an invite for next year.
Looking back, would you still have chosen a career in cricket, or given golf a go?
[Laughs] There was no chance of that. I’m certainly nowhere near good enough as a golfer. Maybe I’d have chosen to be a batter rather than a bowler, but definitely not a golfer over a cricketer. Plus, I’m more of a team sport kind of guy and golf might get a bit lonely out there with all the travel and competitions.
Does your competitive streak extend from the pitch to the green?
Of course! I love the game and it’s great that you can play against anyone and still be able to win. As I said, my handicap allows me to
take on just about anyone and win.
Having learned his trade as a spinner at Western Province, Harris’ career took off after a move to the Titans. He made his Test debut for the Proteas against India at Newlands in 2007 and promptly picked up four wickets, including that of Sachin Tendulkar. His early promise saw him named the South African Newcomer of the Year in 2007. He went on to help his side restore some pride with a Man of the Match performance in the third and final Test against Australia on home soil in 2009. Harris, who regularly provides analysis for SuperSport, retired in 2013 with 103 Test wickets and best figures of 6-127.
– This article first appeared in the August issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale