He is the second most capped Test Cricket player for New Zealand with 111 appearances and the longest-serving and most successful captain having led the side to 28 victories. He took up golf at the age of six and today we find out he loves the chance to get out and play golf with our Quick Round with Stephen Fleming.
How old were you when you started playing golf and who got you started?
I was about six years old when I started playing golf. I would sit on the back of Mum’s trundler as she played competitive golf at Waimairi Beach Golf Course.
Where did you start playing golf?
I would have a few shots when out with Mum at Waimairi but I didn’t play full rounds until I was at high school. I would then hack around with school mates at a local public course in Hagley Park. It was a fairly challenging start as Mum had right-handed clubs and I was left-handed!!
What is the lowest handicap you have ever played off?
The lowest I got to was a 6 handicap.
What was your lowest round score and when?
My lowest round was 75 at Clearwater. I needed a 74 to force Nathan Astle (who was carrying on!) to come on a golf trip to Queenstown. I double-bogeyed the last hole so I was filthy!!
How many holes in one have you had?
None! Filthy again!!
How far do you hit your 7-iron?
I have some land in North Canterbury so was able to put in a little green and bunker about 138m away from the house. My thought was that I would become the best short iron player in NZ (ambitious) given that when I wasn’t away overseas coaching, I would have time to hit plenty of balls. Setting about with best endeavour, I can honestly say I am now one of the worst 7 iron players in NZ. I also worked out that adopting every golf tip on offer and beer aren’t the best high-performance ingredients. I now have an ingrained mongrel swing that goes nowhere! (I definitely need to hit more balls!)
What is your biggest fear on the golf course?
It has to be a short chip against the grain of the grass and a crowd! For me, one or two people watching can constitute a crowd.
What do you most love about playing golf?
I think it’s about getting another chance. Coming from batting in cricket where you can be out of the game for hours or even days if you make a mistake or if you don’t get a ‘good’ ball, it’s nice to be able to walk up and quickly get another crack! Being competitive and spending time with mates also rates highly.
What is your most memorable moment in golf?
For me it was playing the final round with Mark Brown in the 2014 NZ Open. I was his amateur partner and our team score was good enough to allow me to play with him as he competed for our national trophy. I compared it to him being able to bat with me at Lords in a test match.
What is your favourite golf course?
I love Queenstown and in particular Millbrook. Of course, I must also give special mention to Wairakei just out of Taupo.
Who is the most famous person or best golfer you have played with?
Each of the professional players I have been lucky enough to play with at the NZ Open and then my cricketing buddies. Shane Warne is always great fun to play with, as is Andy Lee.
What is the most memorable time or experience you have had on the golf course?
I recall playing 18 holes with Brendon McCullum at Jacks Point as we went down the stretch attempting to win ’THE DONKEY INVITATIONAL’ (big tournament amongst mates). We’d had a few ’sharpners’ on board and the golf was surprisingly accurate. I got him by one on the last as he took the gas…..
If you could pick any three people, alive or dead, to play in a four-ball with, who would they be –and any particular reason for your choices?
It would have to be a foursome with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Playing with the best of the best would be amazing to be part of.
Who would you get the most satisfaction out of beating on the golf course and why?
Any win is treasured these days but beating Craig McMillan would be very popular. I have funded his golf since he started and every dollar won back off ‘Macca’ is like two in the hand!
My favourite golf destination is?
For sure it’s got to be Queenstown.
My favourite country in which to tour and play golf?
South Africa has amazing courses and outstanding hospitality. Pearl Valley Golf Course, just out of Cape Town was my favourite place to play and the wine area surrounding it made it an amazing place to visit. ‘The river club’ in Johannesburg is also right up there as well.
My favourite golf movie is?
It’s called Old School. It’s not actually a golf movie but I thought I saw a set of clubs at ‘Frank the Tanks’ crib.
What is your favourite thing to do away from the golf course?
I love to spend time at home with the family (even after 5 weeks in lock down!!) and spending time with mates. After spending many years ‘on tour’ it’s nice now to have a better life balance. And of course, more time to hit balls!