The legendary cricketer made his name hitting sixes from the crease, but now he’s happier making fours when he’s roaming the fairways.
For a man who is one of the greatest ever left-handed batsmen, it seems almost surreal to see Brian Lara hitting a golf ball right-handed. Not that it seems to hold him back.
The former West Indies international may be synonymous with hitting boundaries on a cricket pitch, but his single-figure handicap suggests his talents stretch to the golf course as well.
It seems somewhat fitting, then, that he remembers 1994 for two reasons; breaking records and taking up golf. He says he’s been hooked on the game ever since, to the point that he even played 18 holes on the same day he broke Sir Garfield Sober’s 36-year-old world record for the highest score in a Test innings...
I remember playing in a four-day cricket match for Trinidad and Tobago against Leeward Islands in Montserrat. They had [Curtly] Ambrose and Winston and Kenny Benjamin in attack and the game was over after two days. I couldn’t get a flight for three days, so I went to play a beautiful golf course in Montserrat. I birdied the last hole, and caught the golf bug straight away. And that was in 1994.
I had only been playing golf for two months, but on the morning of my record-breaking score [of 375] against England, I got up at 6am and played a quick 18 at a course in Antigua with a friend. That is one round that I still remember for obvious reasons. It probably wasn’t the best way to prepare [laughs]... but it helped me to relax.
I always had a lot of free time when I was playing cricket, especially during practice days. I found going to the golf course a good way to switch off and keep my mind fresh.
I might have taken a short break from golf when my cricket game was suffering, but I’ve been playing since I was 25 pretty much. I do wish I took up the sport when I was younger, though. I’m trying to make up for lost time now, and I always try and take my golf clubs with me whenever I go abroad. The ability to travel and mix business with pleasure by playing a little golf is just great.
When I’m back home, I try to play three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My home club is St Andrews, the one in Trinidad, not Scotland! I really like to play with the members there and I love to go on golf tours with friends.
I probably prefer parkland, tree-lined courses but I love the challenge of playing somewhere new. My top five courses are Sentosa in Singapore, Sandy Lane in Barbados, Sunningdale, Loch Lomond and Leopard Creek.
I’ve had four holes-in-one, but playing against Dwight Yorke and beating him is just as big an achievement. We play a lot and he’s my best friend. We’ve had plenty of wagers over the years. Maybe £500 is the most I have won. But I mostly play for the enjoyment and the camaraderie.
I would describe my game as very average for a five handicapper. I’ve actually got down to three before, but I never won any money and I’ve slowly crept up to five again. I am just very inconsistent. I’ve only been under par once; I shot a 71 in Trinidad. I would love to play off scratch in the future, but I need to sort my bunker game out.
My biggest handicap is that I play right-handed. I started playing golf left-handed, but I was worried it was going to affect my cricket. At the time, there were no professionals really playing left-handed and I convinced myself it was a right-handed game and ended up switching hands. Naturally, I think I am left handed so I do wish I stuck at it.
The first professional I ever played with was Colin Montgomerie and he liked cricket. Ernie, too. I’ve also got to know Rory, so I’ve got a friendly, respectable relationship with a lot of guys on the pro circuit. But I still get nervous whenever I play with them. The great thing is that they give me advice on what I should be doing, which is always a massive help.
I love watching golf live. Sunday golf is the best. I went to Augusta to watch the Masters last year and the five previous years. That’s on my bucket list of places to play; Pine Valley as well.
I’m lucky that I get invited to play in quite a few pro-ams. The opportunity to play in front of a crowd and deal with the intense pressure is something that I really look forward to. It was the same when I was playing cricket. The BMW PGA in England is one of my favourite events, and I’ve played in the Abu Dhabi Invitational for the last couple of years. Fortunately, they’re not tired of my face yet!
Brian Lara’s brilliant cricket career
Lara is now a special envoy for the Prime Minister, and an ambassador for sport of Trinidad and Tobago.