My Shot: Henrik Stenson

Risk + Reward

Continued (page 3 of 3)

IT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH for me to top playing that shot in my underwear. Let's face it, I'm no Paulina Gretzky. I got so much attention from that incident. I wear Hugo Boss apparel, and on that day I was wearing the wrong brand, a Bjorn Bjorg model. Hugo Boss sent packages of their underwear to other players under contract to them with one of the pictures of me down to my skivvies and a note saying, "If you're caught in a similar situation, please wear the brand in the enclosed package."

WHERE I GREW UP in Sweden, you can play golf only from April to October. The winters there are harsh. But I wouldn't hesitate to grow up in a short-season climate again, and I would caution parents of a talented golfing child against moving to a warmer place. When spring did come, we were so eager to play. Better to have seven intense months than 12 months where you take golf for granted.

IN WINTER, I played a lot of badminton. Good sport for hand-eye coordination, agility and reflexes, all useful in golf. The feet are moving constantly. I was club champion when I was 14. All sports are good for golf, but badminton is right up there.

IN SWEDEN we had a golf boom just like the one in America. But as with all booms, it petered out. Golf was the cool thing to do, and everyone did it because their friends were playing. But a lot of people discovered they weren't very good at it, and they quit. Some of the smaller clubs went out of business and were turned into farms. I don't think any country has established a model for what the ideal setting or program should be. Everything comes with a financial price. Maybe the way to do it is to avoid thinking about growing all the time, and structure things to accommodate the people who are there and those you know for sure are coming in.

I'M DISMAYED at how outdoor sports activities are declining. I see fewer kids playing hide-and-go-seek under a street lamp, playing catch, or out stealing apples from the neighbors' trees. They used to play for hours, unattended. Now they're inside playing video games and surfing the Internet. Golf used to grow as a result of kids just wanting to play outdoors, but to grow it nowadays takes lots of organizing. Nobody knows for sure what to do. I'm only 38, and the dynamics have changed incredibly since I was a lad.

IF I WEREN'T A GOLFER, I'd probably sell things. Something people liked, something I could sell for more than I paid for it, and something they felt they had to have. I've got it. How about something to do with porridge, or as it's known in America, oatmeal? I'd invent porridge that tasted great and had all kinds of good nutrients to impress the people who look at the labels. I'd market it as Henrik's High-Test Porridge Bars, and package them so you could sell munchable versions you carry in your golf bag.

I'VE ALWAYS BEEN a practical joker. As kids we'd take what comes out the hind end of a dog and put it in a paper bag. We would put the bag on a neighbor's porch, light it on fire, ring the doorbell and run away. They would rush out, often in their house slippers, and stomp out the fire. Hilarious.

I'M NOT a superstitious person, but I dislike golf balls with the number 4. I just don't like the look of that number. When I get my supply from Titleist, the 4s are set aside for practice only. I use the 1s in the first round, 2s in the second round, 3s in the third round. In the fourth round, I use a blend of whatever's left. Sometimes I play balls numbered 5-6-7-8, but that creates another problem: Which balls would I use for practice? It's not a perfect world.

THERE'S ANOTHER DOWNSIDE to having that bald eagle in our back yard. It means we won't be getting a small dog.

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