Dennis Quaid is addicted to golf – unlike some of the other things the actor has been hooked on, this one is life-preserving, he tells RSNG. What’s more, he got rather good at it, with a one-time handicap of one, when he was practicing every day.
Despite that, he sees the funny side of the game. ‘As a sport, it is totally mad,’ he tells us. ‘It makes no sense, nor does it pretend to.’
The star of ‘The Big Easy’, ‘The Parent Trap’, ‘Footloose’ and this year’s successful comeback, ‘The Intruder’ is still prolific on the big and small screen, but is undoubtedly happiest when on the fairway…
RSNG You’re fully into golf, right? This is a big part of you?
DENNIS QUAID, ACTOR ‘Definitely. It’s a big release and I can approach it so that it feels like a reward. Yes I am a little bit addicted, but I’ve had a few addictions in life and golf is definitely the one that has been the greatest. It is self-preserving; most of the others weren’t.’
‘Stepping out onto the golf course means wearing with style and swagger – those are skills and feelings you need to translate’
RSNG Do you buy into the image that goes with golf?
DQ ‘Rarely. As someone who has been brought up mainly enjoying the humour of cinema, and who made a living trying to put that comedy and drama into new characters, I can’t help but sometimes look at golf and wonder where this whole image comes from.’
‘Just think about when else in life it would be acceptable to wear a polo shirt with a pair of suit trousers, with a pair of white trainers.’
‘I mean, this stuff is beyond the mark no matter how you look at it, but the funny thing is we have come to accept it and it now appears normal. I quite like that, but it doesn’t mean to say it’s any less strange.’
RSNG You are wearing white shoes right now though?
DQ ‘This is actually not too common. I’ve said before, if I wear white shoes I will try to match it with something else… either a cap or a belt. You are right to point that out though.’
RSNG Does it matter what we wear?
DQ ‘Absolutely. Remember you’re asking that question to an actor. Someone would never do Shakespeare dressed in a pair of jeans, right? So by the same logic stepping out onto the golf course should means wearing something that offers style and swagger because those are skills and feelings you need to translate into the golf itself.
‘I am fully behind the logic of looking good, playing good.’
RSNG You mention the comedy of golf, but you’ve also taken on a fair share of disaster roles – does hitting a three-over-par seven or eight relate to something like The Day After Tomorrow?
DQ ‘Hey, I guess in many ways it does. The thing I love most about golf is no matter how bad a shot is, no matter how much it’s sliced or bounced or it dies in the rough, right up until you put the ball in the hole on the 18th, you will always get another shot… you will always get another chance to make up for the madness that just happened.’
‘And sometimes even on the 18th you can just restart the course and go again. But that would have to be a really bad shot to make you want to go round one more time!
‘There is such a finality in a lot of what we do in life, and yet golf takes all that and says, “we’ll write that one down, but hey, pick up your ball and let’s go again”. How cool is that?’
RSNG What is your handicap?
DQ ‘I play off about seven or eight, right now. I used to be scratch until the kids came along. They slowed me down and now the swing is gone!’
RSNG Tell us about playing golf with US Presidents?
DQ ‘Trump can hit the ball, he’s an athlete. I couldn’t tell you who won because we actually only played four holes and then he had something important that he had to go to take care of! He has a really great swing and I think he could have played off scratch if he wasn’t the President.’
‘Bill Clinton was really good and had a great swing as well… I can’t tell you if either of them cheated, because you can’t really tell. But if either of them did, I would say that that is called a ‘Presidential Pardon’ haha! Clinton was giving me seven-foot putts, so, you know…’
‘It’s the only time that a president gets to drive: on a golf course; because they don’t drive a car.’
RSNG You managed to get quite a bit of golf in during the shooting of Any Given Sunday, is that right?
DQ ‘Well, when we were on set most people didn’t really get there until about 11 or 12 o’clock as it took so much time to gear up and get going, and we realised that early on in the shooting.’
‘So, with that in mind, every morning about sunrise there would be myself, James Woods, Lawrence Taylor (the greatest defensive player ever to play in the National Football League) and Jim Brown (the greatest offensive player to play in the National Football League).’
‘We would be down at Doral Golf Course in Miami – which funnily enough, is now owned by President Trump after he bought it in February 2012 – and we would be playing there until they told us to come in, and would amble hole-by-hole.’
‘We weren’t talking about anything in particular, it was just total trash talk the entire time to be honest with you. You would talk during everybody’s backswing… you know, anything that would give you an edge to win that hole!’
‘Being an actor means you can also be a celebrity golfer… not that I like that title too much’
RSNG Would you take being a professional golfer over an actor?
DQ ‘At this point in my life, I would, but I’ve done pretty well out of acting and I owe it everything. They are very different beasts.’
‘In a sense, being an actor means you can also be a celebrity golfer, so to speak… not that I like that title too much. But if you look at it from the other way round, being a professional golfer wouldn’t mean you could then stroll up to a studio expecting to be an actor.’
‘You know, I think I’ve worked it out for myself, haha!’
RSNG Is it true you play your golf at the Bel-Air Country Club in Beverly Hills?
DQ ‘Yes I like it up there – it’s a good spot. You know, I have always said that the best three things about being a celebrity are that you can raise a lot of money for charity, get great reservations at restaurants and you get to play great tee times. That is still my thought and still the truth.’
‘I just have to play, and it is certainly an excellent way to get away from everything that’s going on in the world. That's what I love about it most.’
‘I started playing in the late-1980s. I was hooked pretty much right from the start. There was something about how gentle the sport was, yet totally brutal at the same time.’
‘I couldn’t get away from it and I will never forgive myself for turning down the movie Tin Cup – there would never have been a better match and I could have improved my swing immeasurably at the same time as getting paid for it!’
WHAT NEXT? Watch the trailer for Dennis Quaid’s comeback movie Intruder.