My Shot: Samuel L. Jackson

One of Hollywood's most acclaimed actors on hitting a driver directly on the face (of the stunt man), taking a shank to the back and outfitting Darth Vader in golf clothes.

Samuel L. Jackson

Photographed Oct. 27, 2005, at the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio in San Marcos, Calif.

December 2005

Actor • Age 56 • Los Angeles, CA

My character in "Formula 51" carries his golf clubs throughout the movie. There's one scene where my guy gets into an altercation and uses one of his clubs as a weapon. During rehearsals for this fight scene, I almost killed the stunt man I was going up against. I'd picked a Titleist 3-wood to swing at him, and he was supposed to be just out of reach. Either he got too close or my extension through impact is getting better, because I caught him full force in the head. He dropped like he'd been shot. Blood was everywhere, and my first impression was that I'd killed the guy. Eventually he came back to work, with a lot of stitches in his head. The thought that haunted me was, What if I'd used an iron?

During filming of "Star Wars II," I carried my light saber in my golf bag. I had to practice whenever I could because there were 109 movements to learn. We were in Australia, and I'd whip it out on a tee box when play was slow and go through the moves. The people I played with thought that light saber was very cool. It was about the length of a driver and weighed about the same, too. One of those moves is similar to a golf swing, used to block an overhand blow. The hands lead, like you're playing a knockdown shot, and the block comes high in the follow-through. Apparently the move wasn't good enough. In the final "Star Wars," Mace Windu gets killed.

If Darth Vader played golf, he'd for sure wear Nike.

What goes around comes around. I was playing with Bernie Mac in Chicago and had just outdriven him by 25 yards. I went ahead to my ball instead of hanging back. Mistake. Bernie's second shot was a skull/shank that caught me in the center of the back on the fly. Sent me to my knees, but I realized it was my fault for walking ahead of Bernie. Then again, when a brother has the shanks, there's really no place to hide.

I love showing up at a muny course around L.A., putting my name on the waiting list and then playing with whoever they put me with. That's how I learned to play, looping a public par-3 course in Van Nuys all day long. I like the looks of vague recognition I get from the people I'm paired with. Awhile back, an older couple whispered to each other for a long time until, on the sixth hole, the man said, "You're Coach Carter!"

Can you believe there are still clubs around that don't allow you to wear shorts? It's 97 degrees, and they say you've got to wear long pants. Who's running these places? They always give you the option of buying a pair of pants in the shop for $250, which is ridiculous. When I showed up at Sherwood in shorts and was told they had a pants-only policy until the Fourth of July — they've since changed their policy — I refused to buy a pair. Instead I got into Will Smith's locker and borrowed a pair from him. When I left I put the pants and $20 in Will's locker so he could have them cleaned.

Tiger Woods said in that commercial years ago, "There are still courses in the United States that I am not allowed to play because of the color of my skin." On one hand, I doubt that's literally true, because it's too outrageous for any club to disallow anyone based on race. On the other hand, I believe there are courses that would turn Tiger down for some other reason just to show how powerful they are: We're the course that turned down Tiger Woods. It's all about power and exclusivity. They discriminate against everybody.

The day I played with Tiger at St. Andrews, I have to admit I was scared. You can feel the game's history all around you. But I settled down. I shot 78, and I'm pretty proud of that, because people have been known to score worse around there. Tiger gave me some good advice before we teed off. "Stay out of the bunkers," he said.

Tiger's got a temper, but you know who gets even madder? The King: Arnold Palmer. I've played with him several times, including at the Hope, and on practically every hole where he made a bogey, I'd find him on the edge of the green, head down, hissing and growling some language you wouldn't believe. Nobody hears him, but he can color the air blue. If it's OK for The King to get mad, I suppose it's all right if I get mad once in a while.

My Handicap Index is 4.9. It's never been lower, but I had more fun when I was starting out. I felt very little disappointment when I hit bad shots. Today I know what causes my bad shots. Knowledge gives you power, but it also opens the door to frustration and disappointment.

Bill Murray is no 14- or 15-handicapper. In truth he's anywhere from a 6 to an 8, the opposite of the Hollywood guy with a vanity handicap. It's not right that he comes to the AT&T with that kind of number. I like Bill, and it isn't his fault. The tournament officials want to guarantee that he's around on the weekend to boost TV ratings and attendance. He always gets good pros, too. Me, I'm lucky to get a B-level pro. Nice guys, but not players known for lighting it up. It hurts to play your ass off and miss the cut by two shots. It's a conspiracy, man. It ain't fair.

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