Cover Story

"Jimmy The Golfer"

Continued (page 2 of 3)

Fun time?
It was great. There's something fascinating about seeing people out of their element, which is kind of what we do on our show. When Russell Crowe comes on and plays guitar, people go, I didn't know he played guitar. If you have Julianna Margulies playing Pictionary, how does she do? Can Mitt Romney sing? It's the same at these celebrity tournaments. We want to see people we love react to not doing so well when they're out of their element.

What would make golf easier?
People who say golf is too hard or too stressful haven't played with me. I don't stress about anything. It's not that hard when you stop thinking about the bad stuff. The other thing I don't do is give you tips while we're playing. You play the way you wanna play, and I'll do my thing.

What is your thing?
Golf is my meditation. I have a brain that's always thinking of a thousand ideas at a time. But when I'm on a golf course, it's quiet and I'm not really that talkative.

Who do you play with?
Mario Batali is a golf buddy. Michael J. Fox, too. We don't take golf or ourselves too seriously.

Do you keep score?
Not really. We'll do closest to the hole on par 3s, and we'll play for a buck or five bucks. But it's totally more about the social. It's almost like therapy. You can complain about stuff, laugh about stuff and clear your head. And you get exercise.

Jimmy Fallon

"I don't know another sport where you
can almost literally wear whatever you like."

How about your buddy Justin Timberlake?
We've played only once, and it wasn't that long ago. Timberlake and I were watching golf at my house in the Hamptons, and I told him there was a pitch-and-putt down the street. "Wanna go do it?" I asked. And he's like, "Let's go!" So we drove over there, even though it's so close we could've ridden our bikes. And we played nine holes in about 35 minutes. We had so much fun.

Did anyone notice that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon were there [Poxabogue Golf Center in Bridgehampton]?
The owner did, but he didn't make a big deal about it. By the time we were done, there was kind of a crowd waiting for us.

Talk about playing with Justin.
He's a great golfer! We'd see who could get closest to the pin and take mulligans 'cause there was no one there. You know, when it's a par 3 it doesn't matter how great you are. If you can chip, then you're both equal. Timberlake doesn't know this, but I thought of a good bit. You know how you can personalize your golf balls? Well, I ordered some balls that say J. Timberlake. I'm gonna play all the courses that he plays so when I shank them into the woods, people will find them and think he hit them there.

You're also into the fashion of golf, aren't you?
I don't know another sport where you can almost literally wear whatever you like. I went with kind of a '60s look at the Hope. Wore a cardigan, and I had a pipe with nothing in it. My game wasn't good, but I looked good.

Golf wasn't cool when you played for your high school team. Do you get hazed for being a golfer today?
No way! That's gone now. Golf is totally cool. There are a lot of younger, good-looking people in the game, and the way people look at golf has definitely changed.

When was the first time you swung a golf club?
My grandparents and my parents had a garden in our back yard. I was maybe 9 years old when I noticed that some of the tomato plants were being held up by these metal sticks. When I asked my grandfather what they were, he told me they were old golf clubs. That's the first time I learned anything about golf.

How did Grandpa explain it?
He told me that golf was the best thing you can ever invest in, because you can play it for the rest of your life. "Look at me," he said. "I'm playing, and I'm your grandpa." He taught me how to chip, and I saw what golf was all about, but no other kid my age was doing it, so it never took off for me until high school.

You joined your high school team when you heard they needed one more player to field a team.
I didn't have clubs and didn't want to spend a lot on a new set because I didn't know how long I'd stick with the game. There was a thing on our local radio station called "The Garage Sale" where you could call in and tell people what you were selling or what you were looking to buy. I left my number, saying I was looking for golf clubs, and pretty quickly a guy called and sold me some Wilson Pro Staff irons for about 50 bucks. When my coach saw my clubs, he said I'd need a driver and 3-wood, so my dad and I found some Wilson Pro Staff woods at our local sporting-goods store. I love technology, so when the sales guy showed us the driver that said "perimeter weighting" on the side, I was like, "Dad, I've got to have that." I didn't even know what perimeter weighting was, but I needed it.

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