My Life in Golf
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler on taking up golf instead of gambling, being called a bandit and why the game builds character
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.
Harry Kane may be the man of the moment, but Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler is arguably the best, most lethal natural finisher England has produced since the heady days of Jimmy Greaves.
Fowler – still known as God at Anfield – had an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. He scored 183 goals for his beloved Liverpool, including 128 in the Premier League, putting him sixth in the all-time list. Once, in 1994 against Arsenal, he netted a hat-trick in less than five minutes!
He would surely have banged in even more but for a knee injury, and nowadays he spends his time in an ambassadorial role at Liverpool “travelling all over the world meeting fans, sponsors and partners.”
But is he as deadly on the greens as he was in front of goal?
I love the game and love to play, but doing what I do now travelling with Liverpool and with four kids, that’s not always possible. I live in Hoylake a few minutes from Royal Liverpool and I’m trying to become a member there. I know I’m a little bit biased, but it’s a great course, with lots of history and tradition, and I love the ambience and feel of the place. We’re spoilt for choice in our neck of the woods, with the best of seaside and inland courses including Royal Birkdale and Delamere Forest.
I’m officially a 12-handicapper at Carden Park, Cheshire. I have good days and bad days, hence there are times when I get called a bandit. I know I could be more consistent if I played more often – it’s like anything, the more you play the better you get. I’ve been playing on and off for 20 years. I didn’t start until I was 20 or 21. I came from an area where the players went down the pub or the bookies. It was a case of having time off and not wanting to get into those habits, so I found the golf course. It’s great to get away from the pressures – it’s probably the most relaxing thing you can do as a footballer as it’s so different from our day job. You just have to look at the number of footballers, current and past, who are playing the game. Whether you’re a footballer or a bricklayer, it’s the same. Trying to hit a good shot is the only thing on your mind. You give yourself four or maybe five hours of total concentration. That’s what I love.
I’m surprised we don’t see more team events in golf. I love the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup because, unusually, you’ve got that team ethic so you’ve got players looking after their teammates. The fans love it as well – it gives everyone, players and fans, a bit of togetherness. I think it gives you a bit more drive and ambition when you’re part of a team.
There are some similarities between the two sports and pressure is one of them. Any footballer playing in a big pro-am will tell you that the nerves they get doing that is totally different from what they’d get in front of a packed football stadium. It’s hard to fathom out how that should happen. I’ve played in a few pro-ams, including the BMW at Wentworth, and early on it was just a job to get my ball on the tee!
It can be a very frustrating game, but that’s why we play. For us amateurs, no two rounds are the same so there’s always that ambition of bettering yourself the next time you get out. You hit a good shot and you can’t wait until you do that again; you always want to beat your last round. And there’s always the competitive edge; the desire to beat the opposition. It’s a sport that builds character; one in which you challenge yourself all the time.
I’ve had a bout of the shanks and it’s a nightmare… you just want to rip your clubs apart! Having said that, I’m on my best behaviour when I’m on the course. I totally understand the rules and the etiquette – that part of the game is absolutely brilliant. I’ve been to a few Opens when they’ve been at Hoylake and the astmosphere and behaviour provides such a feel-good factor.
There are some very good golfing footballers, but they all seem to be Scottish! Gary Gillespie and Alan Hansen are both very good as are Sir Kenny Dalglish and Gary Mcallister. I play with Steve Harkness and Jason Mcateer, both former Liverpool players. Jason, especially, is a very good golfer. A company arranges golf days for former Liverpool players whether it be among ourselves or against other clubs – we’ve recently played Man Utd and Everton – with charities usually benefiting. We lost against United, so we’ve got to get our own back for that one!
My best experience so far came at Formby, where I was one-under for the back nine. I won’t tell you what I shot for the front nine! Ambitions? It’s the old footballing mentality, I just want to get better. I’m a confident lad and I’m confident I can improve, and winning last summer’s final Celeb-am British Par 3 Championship was a boost.
I haven’t had a hole-in-one yet. I missed out by inches a couple of times. It drives me mad when I see other players getting them. My driving is pretty strong and, as mentioned before, if you’re playing a lot, you improve your touch especially around the green.
Who’s the best footballer I’ve played with? I’ve played with many, many great players. Paul Gascoigne was fantastic and I could sit here all day and talk about Liverpool players – John Barnes, Ian Rush, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan and Steven Gerrard, who was unbelievable. He’d probably be my number two. But the best I’ve played with is Steve Mcmanaman.