Michael Vaughan: golf needs to try something similar to Twenty20 cricket

Published:

Leading England to victory in the 2005 Ashes, their first victory for 18 years, earned Michael Vaughan not only an OBE, but a place in the heart of every English cricket fan. It was the highlight of a decade-long international career that saw Vaughan notch 7,701 runs, including 18 Test centuries.

Injuries and a drop in form forced Vaughan to hang up the willow in 2009, but he now takes great pleasure in swinging steel heads on golf courses in England and Australia, and is as fiercely competitive on the course as he ever was on the cricket pitch.

How much sledging happens on the golf course? 

A fair bit of sledging takes place on the golf course. If someone I’m playing against misses a five-footer, puts one in the water or out of bounds, you can bet I’ll remind them of it next time round.

How well do you deal with it when you’re on the receiving end?

I’ve always been used to dealing with pressure and sledging, so it makes no difference transferring that to the golf course. Cricketers have a mechanic in their head that helps diffuse the tension. 

Do you play with many other cricketers?  

I’m not the only cricketer who loves a game. As soon as our media duties are finished, myself, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd and Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham always head out to play the nearest course, wherever we are in the world. It was the same as a player; it was a great stress reliever to get out onto the course after a demanding Test match and I’d always be joined by the likes of Andrew Strauss, Ashley Giles and Paul Collingwood.

michael-vaughan-st-andrews

Are you the best of the bunch? 

Stuart Broad thinks he has the beating of me. He’s always challenging me and going on about a new driver he’s got that’s going to help him beat me, but he’s easy to beat. All you have to do is give him a bit of stick and he buckles.  

Do you have a friendly wager?

I could never just play golf for the sake of it. You have to keep it competitive. There has to be something on it. We all want the bragging rights; it helps create a laugh and talking points over dinner. Money is definitely exchanged. 

If you hadn’t been a cricketer, would you have fancied a life on the European Tour?

It never entered my head to take up golf professionally. There wasn’t much golf on the TV back in the early 1980s so I didn’t have any heroes or players to emulate.

Have you played with any tour pros?

Tom Watson’s caddie thought I was Lee Westwood’s full-time bagman. I was caddying for Lee during the Masters Par-3 contest and Watson’s caddy Neil Oxman was constantly speaking to me about the course conditions, thinking I was Westy’s full-time caddie. He didn’t have a Scooby-Doo who I was so I just went along with it; it was hilarious.

Caddying for Westwood made me fall in love with Augusta. But walking around the adjacent Augusta Country Club course next door just makes you want to play the real thing, which is frustrating.

vaughan-westwood

What’s your handicap?

I play off 9.6. When I retired I had a few lessons but I’m too busy nowadays. I don’t usually play much at this time of year; I’m definitely a bit of a fair-weather golfer. 

Where do you play your golf?

Australia is a fantastic place to play golf. I’ve played all the great Royal courses, like Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. The traditional courses Down Under are great, they have amazing views and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand is unbelievable too. I enjoy the lively environment and more relaxed feel in the clubhouses in Australia. They are certainly not as strict as some in the UK.

What’s the best shot you’ve ever hit?

I still remember the greatest shot I ever hit. It was my eagle on the par-4 9th at St Andrews during the Alfred Dunhill pro-am. I drove the green and my putt went straight into the middle of the cup. 

What is your least favourite rule in golf?

If I could change one thing about the game, I would come down absolutely strict as hell on those guilty of slow play. I’d give them a warning first, then knock them shots straight away if they did it again. If they still didn’t quicken up, I’d kick them off the golf course – they’d soon learn.

vaughan-michael

Do you think golf has a bright future?

Twenty20 has saved cricket, and golf needs something similar. We live in an era where everybody demands everything now, but cricket and golf are long-winded games, and the younger generation wants something short and sharp. Golf seriously needs to consider a similar option; it is crucial to ensure kids and women start to enjoy the game.

NEXT: Does Damon Hill swing as fast as he drives? 

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.