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Golf Digest Interview: Justin Timberlake

Continued (page 2 of 6)

Any reaction?
High-fives and applause. It was cool.

So what'd you shoot?
I got in the clubhouse afterward, and one of the guys from the group in front of us said, "Man! Every time I looked back, you were hitting great shots. What did you shoot, two, three under?" I did play great on the back, but I told him, "You didn't see me on the front." I think I shot, like 85.

Your friend Samuel L. Jackson told us that occasionally he likes to show up as a single at a muny and play with three strangers. Have you ever showed up at a public course unannounced?
Bethpage Black. We just showed up one morning. It was the year they found out they were going to play the Open there. My dad and I showed up around 8 o'clock. I think the starter recognized me and got us out. There were four of us.

Golf is me and buddies out having a good time, but most of all, golf is about me and my dad. Anytime I think of golf, I think about my dad. He taught me how to hit a golf ball, and he got me playing.

Justin Timberlake

"Anytime I think of golf, I think about my dad. He taught me how to hit a golf ball, and he got me playing."

How often are you recognized on golf courses?
Pretty much every time I go.

Do you like that, or would you prefer to be left alone?
I'm all about etiquette, so as long as nobody's disturbing the game ... I've had some bad run-ins on golf courses that will remain nameless.

We were at a course one time, and all the members had called their kids. As we walked up the 18th hole, there were literally 300 kids standing there. They wanted me to stay and sign autographs, which I'd have been happy to do, but not if it was going to disturb the other golfers. I just don'tthink that's right.

What do you remember about your first exposure to golf, whether on TV, in person or playing thegame?
When I was a kid, I played basketball religiously. I begged my mom to get me voice lessons because I wanted to learn to sing the right way, but at the same time I was playing Junior Olympic basketball, and I was playing point guard for my school. But I was wanting to get into entertainment, into music and film and television.

One time I got sick and had to miss my voice lessons. I remember my mom sitting me down and telling me, "OK, you're going to have to pick: music or basketball."

I think when I was about 12 or 13, my dad started taking me out to the local golf course, and that's the first time I ever hit a golf ball. I picked it up pretty quickly, just kind of monkey-see, monkey-do. But when I was 12, golf was so slow to me. For me it was basketball, girls and music.

In that order?
[Laughs.] Not necessarily. I won't go into what order, but it was pretty obvious.

Didn't you also learn golf by playing with roadies while on tour with 'N Sync?
I did. It was the last tour we ever did as a group.

I never really took up the game until about six or seven years ago. It was one of those things, where I was like, Man. We had just been inside every day.

Around the same time there was a resurgence with some guy named Tiger Woods. So, the guys asked me if I knew how to play golf, and I told them, "Yeah, I know how golf works." I remember I hit one amazing shot off the tee, straight down the middle. I got to thinking maybe I could play this game.

So you had that "wow" moment.
Yep. At around that time I had a house at Bay Hill in Orlando, just across the lake from where Tiger lives. I remember I bought the house when I was 17. It wasn't on the course, but you could take a golf cart over there pretty easily.

Weren't you friends with Ty Tryon at that time? [In 2001, Tryon earned a PGA Tour card at 17.]
My house was right next door to Ty's. Ty used to come over and use the chipping area in my back yard. I'd go over to Bay Hill and hit balls every day.

No lessons from anyone?
Nope, just self-taught. I'd watch Tiger and Ernie Els on TV and try to learn from what they did, but obviously I related music to it. The golf swing is very, very rhythmic. There's a certain tempo to it, just like in music. It just made sense to me. Music is everything to me.

You live mostly in L.A., right? And you're still a member at Sherwood. Is that where you play most of your golf?
I've been a member at Sherwood since, I think, '03. I went through the whole initiation process.Wayne Gretzky was a big savior for me getting in there. At least that's what I heard.

Who do you play with?
Some members I know up there. I usually just call and ask, "What's it looking like today?" or a lot of times I just show up by myself. I really love playing golf by myself.

You're not the kind of guy who plays in club events, are you? Not a competitive golfer in that way?
Not really. Until I feel like I'd have time to do it, it's not really the way I wanna play golf, you know what I mean? Golf is my getaway. I have my day job. I mean, there's gotta be something Tiger does for fun, right?

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