A man known for his legendary tough workout routines is also a regular on the golf course. It probably follows that a heavyweight big hitter at the box office should take his frustration out on the opening spaces too.
An avid golfer, the star of ‘The Fighter’, ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘The Departed’ has garnered an interest in the sport over the past 20 years that he has perfected to the point of being able to complete 18 holes in little over an hour.
More than that though, the 48-year-old actor can subvert golfing etiquette not just by drinking beer on the fairway, but by employing an interesting putting technique…
RSNG First things first… apparently as well as getting round 18 holes in little over an hour you’re also ambidextrous on the course?
MARK WALHBERG, ACTOR AND GOLFER ‘Yeah, I suppose it is a little different, whether it’s better or not, I don’t know. But it certainly works better for me.’
‘I play left-handed, but putt right-handed. So, I swing every other club other than the putter with my left hand – driver, long and short irons and the wedges. Then, when I get to the green I have a right-handed putter. A little, rare, I am told. Very rare.’
‘It’s that’s just something that’s happened the more I’ve played. I started off playing right-handed with everything on the course, and that was mostly because people told me that there aren’t any left-handed players. I have been known to play right-handed every so often, but mostly left.’
RSNG I also hear that you weren’t too bothered about the golf course etiquette when you first started playing?
MW ‘Haha! Where did you hear that? That wasn’t me? I’m a good boy!’
‘Seriously though, I really didn’t care when I started doing that and I was even walking around with cans and bottles of beer when I started coming to golf with my agent, actually.’
‘I thought that I could just do what I wanted and even almost got us all ejected from the premises because I thought it would be funny to take the golf cart onto the greens.’
‘However, that was in my days of raising hell, as they say, and once I realised that I could actually get some enjoyment from the game myself, without trying to be a clown or disrespectful to everyone else who was there just trying to play golf, I thought that I would attempt to take it seriously and learn how to play properly.’
‘So, it has taken a bit of time for me to grow up in that sense, but now I am ultra-competitive and I can’t think of anything better to spend time with friends on the course.’
‘Back in the day – four, five years ago – I’d be hitting 160-yarders with a nine iron, no problem’
RSNG You seem to have mellowed a lot these days?
MW ‘The craziest thing me and the boys do these days is on the golf course, but I do truly think the game makes you a better person. There are rules; there’s an etiquette to it based on patience and discipline.’
‘It’s not about bad attitude or losing your temper, instead it’s grounded in how well you can curb those things and leave them behind when you step on the green.’
RSNG How do you find the time to play with such a busy schedule?
MW ‘Well back in the day – four, five years ago – I’d be hitting 160-yarders with a nine iron, no problem, but when you don’t play for a while, when the movies get in the way or whatever, those numbers go down.’
‘When I got back to the tee, I was struggling to match that with an eight iron, but if I’m doing core work for a movie with some high-impact training then I can start hitting those numbers again.’
‘It’s like anything – if you’re really passionate about something you’ll find time.’
RSNG What do you really love about golf?
MW ‘I love to wake up early when I’m not working on a project and go out to play, either by myself or with a buddy.’
‘At first I sucked, but the major competitor in me doesn’t allow me to give up, so I made it a goal of mine to try to first play the game, but also to be as good as I possibly could at it.’
‘The good thing about playing golf – and not just playing but being fixated on trying to become better all the time – is that I also see it as a great way to relax, regardless of the weather or what is going on at home or at work. I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like about the game.’
‘For me to be able to try and lower my handicap, I need to be more trusting of the shots that I play’
RSNG How do you see yourself improving as a golfer?
MW ‘One thing I know is that for me to be able to try to lower my handicap I need to be more trusting of the shots I play.’
‘That’s easier said than done, but that’s my big project going forward. I think a lot of the positive stuff comes from the driving range – I can get half an hour in each morning before school, assuming I haven’t got time for a 75-minute round!’
‘That’s where I will start mixing it up with different shots, although there’s nothing better than getting behind a driver and really letting go. I’d say, to the extent, you can probably give me that feeling over a putt going down!’
WHAT NEXT? Find out why Don Cheadle only relaxes on the golf course, and on the movie set, once he’s made a mistake – read RSNG’s exclusive interview with the Avengers star.