September 30, 2009

My Game: Wayne Gretzky

Since resigning as the Phoenix Coyotes head coach, Gretzky will have plenty of time to hit the range and lower his 10.6 index.

Since resigning as the Phoenix Coyotes head coach, Gretzky will have plenty of time to hit the range and lower his 10.6 index.

Editor's Note: In "My Game," a weekly series, GolfDigest.com asks noted personalities to expound on their experiences in golf, and what keeps bringing them back. This week, hockey great Wayne Gretzky discusses his affinity for the game while lamenting the fact that, even though he played hockey left-handed, he began golf with right-handed clubs. For better or worse, Gretzky will have more time to work on his game now. In the midst of a messy ownership situation, he resigned on Sept. 24 as the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

I was introduced to golf the same way as everybody else, probably. A relative came by with a set of clubs and said, "Here you go." I was 15 and never gave a thought then to the fact that they were right-handed clubs. I wish I'd have learned as a left-handed player. I probably would have been a better player, because I feel more natural that way. I hit balls left-handed on the range from time to time and probably hit the ball better from that side. But I don't have the time or energy to switch at this point. So the game never came easy to me. It still doesn't.

I was very lucky to have grown up where I did, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Moe Norman, a legend, was kind of from our home club in Brantford and I had a chance to play with him on many occasions. He was really enjoyable to play with. He was a phenom. I tell people stories about how good he was, but they don't believe me. He'd tell me and show me things about the swing, but of course he had such an unorthodox style, different than anybody else, with a big grip way out from his body and a wide stance. So I never tried to play that way. But he was so much fun to play with.

I enjoyed the game from the beginning, despite the difficulties I had with it. We were blessed with a great golf course in Brantford, the Brantford Golf & Country Club. It was always fun to go out with friends; it was a way to hang out with my buddies.

I play in spurts. During the Nationwide Tour's Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in July, I played seven straight days. I did a bunch of promos from Sunday through Sunday, for different organizations that fund the event, and they usually involved golf.

We have a place up at Gozzer Ranch, on Lake Coeur d'Alene, in Idaho, [named best new private course in Golf Digest's Best New Courses 2008], and I'll play a lot up with there with Tommy Armour III. He'll fine tune my game. I'm a member at Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif., current index 10.6, and Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. A few years ago, in the clubhouse at Whisper Rock, they had the U.S. Open trophy and the PGA Championship trophy on display, won by members Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson. That was pretty cool.

Mike Weir often helps me with my game. The greatest thing about Mike Weir? I tell people that what Tiger Woods has done for golf worldwide, that's what Mike has done for golf in Canada. Now kids growing up in Canada say they want to be Mike Weir, with a chance to win the Masters.