My life in golf: Ryan Giggs


The Welsh wizard is one of the Premier League's best ever players... but he can't seem to repeat that form with a golf club

Ryan Giggs is English football's most decorated player, picking up eleven Premier League titles, four FA Cup and two Champions League winners medals in his two decades at his beloved Manchester United. He played 963 games for the Red Devils before finally hanging up his boots at the end of 2013/2014 and becoming assistant manager.

Now 43, Giggs also received 64 caps for Wales, was awarded the OBE in 2007 and was selected as GB Olympic football team captain for the 2012 games. Currently he's "playing exhibition games, doing a bit of TV punditry and I've got a couple of businesses that keeps me busy, while I see a lot more of the kids." Plus he's determined to improve on his modest 14 handicap...

I started playing golf with my mates in my early 20s, but as a footballer you don't really get the time to play. People think that you finish training at 1pm, but if you're a serious footballer you just go home and rest... and definitely don't go and play golf.

I made my pro-am debut at the BMW at Wentworth earlier this year. To be honest it was a rude awakening! Sure, I'm used to playing in front of big crowds. But that was my day job... I'm not a good golfer, if I'm honest. When you hit a good shot it's great, but when you hit a bad shot it takes a bit of getting used to as I discovered at Wentworth. There were a lot of people, it was boiling hot and I was hacking it around. But after a few holes I started to hit a few good shots and started to enjoy it. It gave me a buzz.

I play off 14. I've been playing since I was 20, but I've have never had any lessons so I've pick up some bad habits and getting rid of those is quite difficult. Some of my old team-mates never played golf until they finished their careers and then they really went for it, so they're so much better players simply because they haven't picked up bad habits over the years. I have lots of them!

This is the first year I've really played through the winter, but I'm not someone who goes on the driving range and hits ball after ball. I just like to play. I suppose if I'm going to get better, I'm going to have to dedicate more time to it and take it more seriously. When I play with my mates sure it's competitive and it can get a bit feisty, which is good.

I'd like to put the record straight. The papers had a story about my supposed disqualification from a competition at Worsley earlier in the summer for not paying the £5 entrance fee. What actually happened was that my mate went into the shop to pay up, and for some reason paid his ver but not mine. I wasn't aware of this until afterwards. As it turned out, we didn't do well so we just DQ'd anyway. But I was disappointed it got out. It was a genuine mistake.

Scottish links Kingsbarns has to be up there with the best of the courses I've played. I'm a member at Dunham Forest, which is a good Cheshire track, while Sunningdale is beautiful, as is Loch Lomond. I've played in Portugal, mainly in the Algarve around Vilamoura, and I've played a bit in Spain. When we went on pre-season tours to America or South Africa I played some of the courses over there.

I just want to be consistent... simple as that. There's nothing worse than standing on the first and not really knowing where your first shot is going! It's not nice. That's what happened at Wentworth. I managed a few pars and a birdie, but the rest were sixes and sevens. My main weakness is off the tee. It just goes left! Around the greens I'm comfortable, putting I'm comfortable. It's just not great taking three off the tee and chasing it from there.

I've been to the Qatar Masters when United were over there for winter training and nobody was there! Even though the strong field featured players like Monty, Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Jason Dufner. You could virtually walk alongside the players owing to the small galleries so that was a good event to watch. On the other side of that, I've attended The Open at Royal Lytham and it was 10 deep and I couldn't see anything until we got back to hospitality!

Best footballing golfers? Dwight Yorke is a good player as is Teddy Sherringham. I played at Wentworth with Peter Schmeichel and he was pretty steady, though he didn't start playing until he moved from United to Aston Villa. Brazilian twins Rafa and Fabio da Silva, who played for United, wouldn't be in that company. They'd never played golf before and we had an end-of-season golf day and they just couldn't hit the ball! It was getting dark and they were still out there trying, but they loved it. We were watching from the clubhouse it was brilliant. So funny to watch.