My life in golf: Alan Shearer
The former England and Newcastle legend on pro-am nerves, his annual trip to Augusta and playing with the ‘angry’ Ian Wright
The Premier League legend is also a handy six handicapper.
Alan Shearer is one of the best strikers this country has ever produced. He scored 283 league goals in a glittering career that included a record 260 in the Premier League, a record 11 top-flight hattricks and a total of 422 in all competitions. He won 63 England caps, scored 30 goals and had a goalsto-game ratio of 0.667 throughout his career. He hung up his boots in 2006 and nowadays he’s an insightful Match
of the Day pundit with a burning passion to improve his golf, starting in front of the Geordie fans when he tees it up in the British Masters Hero Proam at his home course, Close House, on September 27. I do love my golf. Wherever I go, my clubs go with me, that’s the deal. “How many bags have you got?” Two… and one is my golf bag! I play off six; sometimes better, but most times worse.
I think it’s a fair handicap, though. Golf can be a deeply frustrating game. Confidencewise it’s similar to football; when things are going well for you, you just put your ball down and hit it without thinking about it too much. In football you take your shot and if it’s going for you, it goes in. I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous in my life as when I played in my first Wentworth BMW Pro-am.
I’ve taken penalties in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley in European Championship semis, but nothing compares to standing on that first tee with Lee Westwood and Declan Donnelly. Ant was going to play, but I got there early in the morning and sent him a text message advising him not to wear white trousers in front of 20,000 people! So he didn’t come… We roped Pat Jennings in as a late substitute. I was shaking like a leaf… with 20,000 people around, you don’t want to make a prat of yourself! I’m shaking as I’m putting the ball on the tee. I stood behind it and thought I’d never normally tee it so high, but I couldn’t go back down in case I couldn’t get the ball back on the tee! Luckily I hit it straight down the middle and opened up with a par. My favourite club is a 20-year-old Callaway Hawk Eye 7-wood.
I love it. The new Callaway wedges also take pride of place in my bag – they’re custom-made for me, with No.9 in black and white on the back (Newcastle colours). I’m spoilt. I’m like everyone else – as soon as new clubs come out, I’m keen to test them. You can play golf all over the world – wherever you go there always seems to be a great course or two. Then it’s about the people you play with. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great golfers over the years including the last Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke at Close House, which was a great experience. You’re out in the fresh air and with a ban on mobiles on the course nobody can get hold of you… and that’s why I love it. I managed to get some quality golf in during last year’s Euros in Paris. As the tournament went on we got more days off because of the knockout stages. I’d never associated Paris with having great courses, but we played four and they were top-class. I was lucky enough to play in the Pro-am at Le Golf National alongside Westwood. Saint Nom-laBretèche was beautiful, as was Paris International (though nobody had heard of it, Westy included). It was BBC v ITV and Dan Walker and myself were unbeaten against Ian Wright and Lee Dixon. Close House is a beautiful course and looks magnificent ahead of the British Masters. It’s only 15 minutes from my house and it’s fantastic for Newcastle to have such a big event. I just hope I can put in a good performance in front of the Geordie fans, but I know I’d be more comfortable taking a penalty in front of them than facing a five-foot putt! I respect the Tour pros who travel everywhere, but don’t earn a lot, having a 10-footer to make sure they can put food on the table.
It’s a heck of a lot of travelling and you’re away from the family for so long. But the top players travel the world in their private jets, playing the best courses… that’s got to be brilliant. That’s what I’m doing in my next life! My driving is one of my strengths though putting is a weakness
– I just don’t get the time to practise. Once I get a day off I want to go out and enjoy the course rather than spend two or three hours practising. I’m not an angry golfer.
Ian Wright’s an angry golfer! If have a good day, I have a good day and if I have a bad one, that’s fine. The more competitive it is, the more I like it. I have to have a fiver at stake to add a bit of spice. I go to the Masters every year.
I’ve been for the past five, so that’s the deal – I have that weekend off every football season so I can head over to Augusta. I’m the luckiest guy in the world: I got paid to play football and now I watch and comment on football, which gives me days off when I can travel the world and play golf.