Former Proteas star batsman Herschelle Gibbs talks about his favourite courses and the shot he fears the most, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
What’s the state of your golf game?
I’m playing off a five, but I’m not playing as regularly as I’d like. I’ve set myself a goal of getting down to a two or three this year. I’d also like to break 70 in the next six months. I’ve done it on a par 70, but haven’t managed to crack the 60s on a par 72.
Who are the best Proteas golfers you’ve seen?
I’m sure most people know that Polly [Shaun Pollock] is really good. He plays off a two and was probably the best golfer in the team. Zulu [Lance Klusener] plays off a three and isn’t far off Polly’s level, though.
Do you have any favourite golf courses?
I really enjoy my home course, Atlantic Beach, especially in winter. Any time you play The Links at Fancourt you know you are in for a treat, so that course is also right up there for me. Gary Player Country Club, Pearl Valley and Clovelly are also some of my favourites.
I’ve been lucky enough to play a round at Wentworth in England. It was a superb track and great experience.
Are there any shots on the course that scare you?
(Laughs) Definitely the ‘fried egg’. No matter what handicap you are, you are never sure how it’s going to come out. I’m very happy to shape a shot, play over water or from a tight lie, but a ball buried in the sand is difficult to handle.
Who would make up your dream fourball?
The first name is obvious: Tiger Woods. He’s achieved so much in the game and just has that winner’s aura that would be amazing to experience. Joining Tiger, I’d want Rickie Fowler because he’s a trendsetter and fashion guru like me (laughs). I’d then pick Phil Mickelson to complete the group. He’s the people’s favourite and it would also be great to have a lefty in the mix.
Who’s the worst golfer you’ve played with?
I’m going to rule out a high-profile ex-Springbok because he doesn’t have a handicap, which means it has to be Graeme Smith. The divots I’ve seen him take on the tee box and his game in general takes golf to a whole new level.
Ever made a hole-in-one?
I have. It probably goes down as the first ace at Pezula (then Sparrebosch) because it came the day after the official opening. I hit a 9-iron really nicely but didn’t see it go in because of a small mound at the front of the green. I’m glad I did it the day after the opening, because it would’ve been a helluva expensive round otherwise.
Tell us your 2012 Open story.
I managed to get tickets from Ernie Els to watch the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham. He was rock solid on the final day and took advantage of Adam Scott’s collapse to win. Afterwards I said to him: ‘Every time you organise me tickets, you win.’ so I reckon I could be considered his lucky charm.
What scares you more: the 1st hole or the 19th?
I’m a lot more subdued now than I was a few years back, so I’d have to say the 1st hole. I’ve played in quite a few golf days – there’s often a bit of a crowd around the 1st tee and I have to say I’ve done it all: hit them fat, thin and short of the ladies.
The Western Province batsman burst on to the international scene in 1996 and represented the Proteas in 361 matches across all formats in a 14-year career. A brilliant fielder, the flamboyant star regularly made the extraordinary look simple as he cut, hooked and slog-swept the world’s best with ease. Despite finishing his Test career with two double hundreds, 14 centuries and a host of partnership records, Gibbs will be most fondly remembered for his limited-overs exploits. These included his stunning 175 off 111 balls during South Africa’s famous ‘438’ win over Australia at the Wanderers in 2006, and his six sixes in one over against the Netherlands at the 2007 World Cup.
– This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine