Why Aussie Marc Leishman has Built A Putting Green In His Garden

Victoria-born pro Marc Leishman has 12 professional wins in his career, since joining the paid ranks in 2005 at the age of 17, including four victories on the PGA Tour. His last came in October 2018 in the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.

But to say that we are lucky to still be seeing the 36-year-old in action every week, is no exaggeration. In 2015, whilst preparing for another crack at the Augusta National-hosted Master tournament, he had a frightening family emergency.

His wife Audrey had been suffering from what she thought was just a common cold and was getting on with every day. But once a fever struck her, she sought medical help and ended up in an ICU, fighting for her life.

Thankfully, she beat all of the odds after it was felt she had less than a 5% chance of survival and has since recovered to be able to set up an awareness charity with her husband.

The Leishmans now have an annual golf event which advertises their ‘Begin Again Foundation’, helping those who are in similar dire straits with their health and medical bills.

Meanwhile in golf, Marc is hoping that he can bring good news of a different kind as he hopes to finally capture one of the major tournaments which have so far eluded him. A player who thrives on consistency, his attention to detail extends far beyond time with his sports psychologist, or the statistics surrounding his golf finishes… in fact, to find the real Marc Leishman, just have a look in his backyard…

RSNG Where has the tag of Mr Consistency come from?
MARC LEISHMAN, NOT YOUR AVERAGE AUSSIE
‘It’s come from how I progressed up the ranks as a youth player, and how I took that into my game in the early years of being a pro. I was one of only 10 or 11 players to play in the BMW Championship every year from 2009 through to 2014 and that level of consistency and familiarity is absolutely what you need as a golfer.’

‘That said, at some point you’ve got to kick on and move to the next level, and that’s really been the aim for a long time now.’

‘Being consistent at mid-level is fine – it will pay the bills; but I’ve been working a lot with a sports psychologist with the specific intention of making those great rounds the norm, and finding consistency and average in those – that’s the big challenge and I’m definitely up for that.’

RSNG What’s your favourite or most familiar course?
ML
‘I do like playing at Augusta and that’s the unique one out of the four Majors, in the sense that you know the course before you even turn up. That venue obviously is the only one which never changes on the calendar from year to year and I enjoy being there – I mean, who wouldn’t! It’s such a beautiful place.’

‘The thing with playing there is that although you’re familiar with the surroundings having played there each year, it’s so different to the other events that lead up to it. It’s well-known that the greens are lightning-fast and with the other tournaments beforehand, you have to adjust when getting to the Masters.’

‘So, what I usually do to get myself in the best possible shape is to play the event two weeks before and have the next week off, go to Augusta on the Sunday before and try to get used to that exceptional way you have to play the Masters course, to give myself the best chance.’

RSNG Links courses also favour your game, don’t they?
ML
‘I do also like links courses and that would explain my good finishes there over the years, because of the open nature of the courses in links golf, the wind can usually have a big impact and having played the game growing up in South Australia, where the wind is always about, that has helped me.’

‘I have converted my back garden into what resembles a few greens – I’ve actually become quite obsessed with the upkeep’

RSNG Speaking of home comforts, talk to me about the putting green garden you have?
ML
‘Well yes, I have converted my back garden into what resembles a few greens. I have actually become quite obsessed with the upkeep, and when I am at home I will ensure the green is trimmed every day.’

‘It’s probable only playable for half of the year in the sense of it being a true surface that responds in the way I would hope, but my view is that if I am putting and practising at home, I am learning even more about the intricacies of the art and giving myself the best chance of replicating that on a real course… even though the conditions are very different.’

RSNG What does your wife think of it?
ML
‘She’s a little annoyed that I’ve basically taken over the garden, but she understands where the obsession comes from. She also knows it’s good for me to relax at home if I’ve been away competing, and everyone knows the best way to relax is with a putter in your hand, haha!’

RSNG Does your normal range practice at home differ from the range practice before your rounds in events?
ML
‘It will do sometimes, yeah. What you’re practising from week to week is usually a whole variety of shots that either you’re comfortable with or shots that you may want to start getting used to playing with a tournament or two coming up, in mind.’

‘When I get to a particular course, I’ll have the practice days before and I will be aware of how that course plays, I will have a look at the weather as well because you have to be taking the elements into account and then adjust with regards to that.’

‘It’s highly likely when on the PGA Tour that I will have played at the courses I am going to in previous seasons. So, I should have a bit of knowledge before I go there. Most courses don’t really change from year to year, except for maybe the lengthening of a couple of holes. It depends on the stroke index.’

‘Being away isn’t much fun – when people see you playing on these beautiful courses it can look like a great lifestyle, but there’s a lot of time in hotel rooms’

RSNG You’re a family man as well – how easy is it to find time to do both?
ML
‘It can be tough – you’re away for long periods; but then you’ll find yourself at home for long stretches too, so it’s a case of making the most of the time you do have with the family.’

‘Being away isn’t much fun. When people see you playing on these beautiful courses around the world it can look like a great lifestyle, but there is a lot of time spent in hotel rooms, and even when you’re on the course it can be frustrating, for obvious reasons.’

‘It takes a bit of getting used to, the lifestyle, but I have accepted it and there are worse ways to earn money!’

‘I think when it really hits home is when something happens at home. When my wife was taken ill, seriously ill, I was in Augusta, and being so far away when there is something really serious happening at home is the most helpless feeling.’

‘She ended up in a coma and there was a very chance she wouldn’t make it. When I heard the news I would have done anything and given up any victory to be transported to by her side, but the nature of the sport is such that you’ll always be a fair distance from home, unfortunately.’

WHAT NEXT? Read our exclusive interview with Lee Westwood on what it’s like to play at Augusta.

Then, watch Marc Leishman holing an Eagle at the 15th in the 2017 Masters.