Hollywood superstar Andy Garcia loves golf. Here he talks about teeing it up with Jack Nicholson and Joe Pesci, accepting what he’s got and his victory on the PGA Tour.
The Godfather III, Oceans 11, Internal Affairs… Andy Garcia has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies over the past three decades. But the 64-year-old loves golf as much as acting and one of his greatest achievements is a win on the PGA Tour.
Yes, he might have been nominated for an Oscar in 1991 for his role as Vincent Mancini in Godfather III, but golf fans will be more impressed with his -43 team victory in the 1997 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
He’s still making shows on US TV and has been in the director’s seat, saying: “My interest is making movies, not just acting.”
When we joined him during a round at St Andrews, he quipped: “I’m in between work right now so am getting in as much golf as I can!”
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I started playing when I was about 12 during the “Arnie’s Army” days.
It was very casual, a knockabout in the local park with a small set of basic clubs, not a lot of formality to it. A lot of us in Miami Beach got a bit of the fever and we scrambled up some money, bought a small set of clubs and started playing in the park.
We put up sticks and hit through them, and there was some sand we used as a bunker, and we kind of devised our own course, and got the bug. We’d also sneak onto the public course at Bayshore in Miami Beach before the tee times started and while the sprinklers were still on. About a year and a half later I was playing other sports and I got distracted by the other sports.
I picked it up again in 1985 thanks to a friend of mine, Richard Bradford, who I was making a movie with.
He was a great actor and a keen golfer, so when he said ‘I’m going to play on Sunday,’ I thought well I’ve hit the ball, admittedly 20 years previously, so rented some clubs and joined him. And I got hooked again! I could still remember how to swing a club, but most of all I remembered how much I enjoyed playing. Then I started playing regularly and practising and I’ve been doing that ever since.
I love everything about golf.
Going for a walk in the fresh air, trying to play some shots, the camaraderie, challenging yourself. It’s a very sublime game. It’s challenging as a sport though to be honest I’ve never had a bad day on a golf course. Movies are an intense experience and you can form a strong lifetime relationship with people you work with over a relatively short time. Playing golf with someone for four or ve hours is similar. Pablo [Larrazabal] and I will be friends for life after partnering each other over the first three days at the Dunhill Links.
I’ve never thrown a club – the day I throw a club in anger, I’ll stop playing.
It’s OK to say ‘come on, Andy get in the game’ and draw the line at that. You have to accept the results and in order to play well you have to get out of your own way and play with instinct, visualisation and tempo. People would look at my swing and say, ‘You’re a little quick off the top’ or your grip is a little weak, but I’ve never had a lesson. For better or worse I’m a complete ‘feel’ player, I just play by feel, and I accept my shortcomings and I’m proud of my strengths. The closer I get it to the hole the better I am. I come into my own around the greens. I don’t hit the ball a long way but my short game is pretty consistent.
I’m currently playing off seven.
I’ve been blessed to play many of the best courses in the world, including the three used in the Dunhill Links (St Andrews Old, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie), which I’ve played four or five times. I haven’t made the cut yet.
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My best moment in golf was when I won the Pro-Am at Pebble Beach 20 years ago.
I was playing off a higher handicap then (18). I played with Paul Stankowski and we were -43, the lowest team score in the history of the event. I played the best golf I’ve ever played in those four rounds, but Paul also played well and nished tied 11th. However, the one crack in the veneer of the game is that anybody who wins anything in golf with a handicap always gets questioned. And we did… (officials responded by trimming Garcia’s handicap to 10).
My home club is Lakeside in Los Angeles.
It’s steeped in tradition. It was built in 1926 and it’s where Bing Crosby and Bob Hope played. It has a long history of members from the film and entertainment industry.
I just show up and tee off, though there are certain times when you know people are going to be around. Joe Pesci plays at noon when he’s in town – he’s a great player. I once played with Joe and Jack Nicholson and we won the Michael Douglas and Friends event. I love to be around Jack – he’s a grinder. And a great putter.
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