Justin Timberlake’s passion for golf is right up there with the intensity he shares for music and family. The husband of actress Jessica Biel has already brought son Silas onto the golf course, and it’s clear he has ambitions for the youngster. ‘Would I prefer him to be a singer or a golfer?’ the 38-year-old wonders.
After all, in his four-year-old, Timberlake has a protégé, his biggest fan, and a son he truly cherishes every moment with. And he’s great for retrieving balls accidentally fired into the rough, as he reveals to RSNG…
RSNG So, you’re a keen golfer - what do you like about the game?
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, POPSTAR WITH A PUTTER ‘Well, I would certainly say for a start that I can go onto a golf course and not have to worry too much about somebody taking a picture of me with a telephoto lens, haha! The golf course is a place where I like to recharge my batteries.’
RSNG Your family are keen golfers as well, aren’t they, so much so that you bought a golf course together…
JT ‘As a family, we have always been very close. Over the years we have taken many vacations together and most of them have revolved around golf. Golf has always been the chosen sport in our family, and it was our thing to do. My dad taught me how to hit a golf ball, but eventually that backfired because I have beaten him quite regularly for a while now, haha!’
‘Yeah, we bought a golf course in 2009, near to the family home in Memphis and called it ‘Mirimichi’ – which means ‘A place of happy retreat’ and that was something we used it for, and it was great for the time that we had it. I played on that course a lot when I was young and when the chance came to buy it, that was a really exciting time.
‘It all came about because my dad saw that Big Creek – as it was known before we bought it – was up for sale, and he said: “Why don’t we just buy it?” So, we did. But there was a lot of work to do to it and put a lot of money into it to try and make it extremely eco-friendly.’
‘My dad taught me how to hit a golf ball, but eventually that backfired because I have beaten him quite regularly for a while now’
RSNG How easy was it to make the first LEED certified golf course in the United States?
JT ‘I did pose a question asking if it was possible for a golf course to actually be green – in the way of being eco-friendly – and as it turned out, it was. It just took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to achieve that. But what we were able to do by completely and literally ripping up the foundations, became another beautiful accident.’
‘It was so great to give something back to the community, the place where I grew up all those years ago and especially on the land where I hit my very first golf ball, ever, when it was the original course.’
‘However, just to be able to put that idea forward and for it to materialise in front of your eyes and now we have so many LEED certified courses across the world, not just in the United States.’
RSNG You have a tournament named after you – The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open. What does it mean to you be a part of the PGA Tour and how did that come about?
JT ‘It’s a total honour and it’s always exciting for someone like me who, if I’m not working then you will find me on the golf course. It was a great opportunity to do something charitable and it has always been my mission through that initiative to find ways to bring the next generation into the game.’
‘But the idea behind that is also to make it fun for them and still teach them how important the honour of the game is.’
‘I'm not afraid of failure – that’s really valuable when you’re deciding if you can swing your ball around a bend or whether you want to play safe!’
RSNG Are there any parallels between golf and the music business?
JT ‘Well the obvious one that springs to mind is the idea of complacency, which I think crosses the parallels of sport, entertainment, life in general.’
‘So I think the thing that has always inspired me to go further is my fear of complacency – that is like creative death I can honestly say I'm not afraid of failure and I think that’s really valuable when you’re deciding if you can swing your ball around a bend or whether you want to play safe and lay it up!’
‘What I’m saying is you can't be afraid to fail – if you do, you'll never achieve greatness. I think my entire career is based on that, and all the golfers I speak to say exactly the same thing. Whether you’re on stage or on the tee mat, you’ve got to have the mentality that you’re going to go for it and give it everything you’ve got, no matter the consequences.’
RSNG** It sounds like you take your golf as seriously as you take your music.
JT** ‘Well, that’s interesting, because for a long time all I ever saw success as was something to do with work… not necessarily box office or critical acclaim, but knowing I took a risk and gambled with a project.’
‘It’s interesting though, because now I realise family is success to me. That amazing little person in my life and my amazing wife… that's success – nothing else matters, not even golf… although I still want to win every time I play!’
WHAT NEXT? Check out Justin Timberlake and a golf course heckling masterclass.