South Africa’s greatest wicket-keeper is enjoying his post-cricketing days. Here he talks about his love for golf
What’s your handicap?
I’m an 8 but I used to be as low as a 2 before my eye injury [freak incident on tour in England in 2012] forced me to retire. I play out of Westlake in Cape Town and it’s not easy to have a low handicap with all that wind.
How has the eye injury affected your golf game?
It’s mainly a thing with depth perception. I’m still hitting the ball well, but my putting has suffered and also getting up and down from bunkers. I find it more difficult now from 30-40 yards out.
What are the best courses you have played?
There are so many. Leopard Creek is right up there when it comes to courses in South Africa, and Fancourt’s The Links, while overseas, Seminole in Palm Beach, Florida, The Merion in Philadelphia and Scotland’s Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie are favourites.
What is your dream fourball?
I’ve already played in it! Myself and Jacques [Kallis] teamed up against Ernie [Els] and KP [Pietersen] at the Dunhill Links – and we beat the pants off them! Ernie has always been a big hero of mine and KP is so mouthy … it was great to shut him up, even if it was only for a short while.
Considering you’ve been a 2 handicap, you must have shot a best score in the 60s?
Yes, it was while I was still in the Proteas set-up. I played at East London Country Club and shot a 68. The wind was blowing on the day and while it was tough going into the wind, when it was from behind it made it a bit easier.
What is the strongest part of your game?
I was always pretty useful when it came to my short game and the short irons in particular. But since my eye injury, and reasons explained, my driving has become key. I can now blame my eyes for my short game, but Jacques reckons it’s my swing.
What’s your favourite Major?
I went to this year’s Masters at Augusta and it was amazing. But I love the history and tradition of The Open Championship, so that would be the one for me. I’ve never been to an Open Championship but I have played at the Dunhill Links which on the Open course every year.
Have you ever had a hole-in-one?
I made an ace on Steenberg’s No 7. I hit a 7-iron and hit it pretty, it bounced, bumped and rolled straight into the cup. The best thing was that Jacques was playing with me and had to watch it go in. He’s never had a hole-in-one.
You mention Jacques a lot and the two of you have been close for years. Has he taken plenty money off you?
Not a chance! I love taking his money. I used to love the rivalry and competition, but these days there’s less of that element between us. But we’re doing well and probably the finest golf moment is when we teamed up and won the Member-Member competition at Leopard Creek. Plus, we are in business together.
How would you describe Jacques’ game?
He’s actually a very keen golfer with a good swing. When we were playing together for the Proteas he wasn’t the best – Polly [Shaun Pollock] probably was – but now he’s mad about the game. He will think nothing of going to the driving range and hitting a thousand balls a day and he’s got a lot better. I could never do that, I much prefer playing the course itself.
Mark Boucher played 147 Tests, 295 ODIS and 25 T20Is for South Africa between 1997 and 2012. He scored more than 10 000 runs for his country and claimed over 1 000 dismissals as wicketkeeper, including 953 catches. He also took one Test wicket. He is a high-profile campaigner against rhino poaching.