By Jason Bruno
Pat Boone has been a singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman for nearly seven decades. In his heyday in the 1950s and 60s, he sold more than 45 million records and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood films, and throughout much of that time, golf has been a passion.
At 87 years old, Boone takes on a new role – playing the “Old Pro” in the new golf movie The Mulligan, coming out this spring. We sat down with him at this year’s PGA Show in Orlando to talk about the movie, and his lifelong love affair with the game of golf.
LinksNation: You’ve had such a long career in entertainment, is “The Mulligan” your first golf movie?
Pat Boone: Let me think about it because I’ve been in a number of movies, yeah I think it is. I was delighted to get it and to have had the opportunity, but as I pointed out in the press conference – I’m thrilled to be part of a film that will impact many people, not just golf lovers. We are all in need of second chances in life and you never know how God may be planning to redeem your story. Payne Stewart was a friend, and these knickers I’m wearing are made by the same guy (Tim Barry) that made his, and we played golf together – we had a bond as strong Christians. When he died I felt like a member of my family had died, but I knew we would see each other in heaven eventually – I mourned him like I would my own brother, so when I had the chance to do this movie and knowing that the Payne Stewart Foundation benefitted from it and I could wear these clothes, it was an easy decision. I wear them in all of the celebrity tournaments.
LN: Speaking of celebrity tournaments, is that where you met Payne?
PB: Yes, we met at one of those celebrity events. I played the Crosby at Pebble Beach, the Sinatra and the Andy Williams event every year. I sang at galas on Saturday nights. The L.A Open could have been the Pat Boone L.A Open, but I was involved with a real estate company that had a tournament up in the Northwest – Seattle area, and when I was offered the chance to be the host of the LA open I couldn’t do it because of the conflict. That’s when they gave it to Glen Campbell.
LN: Wow, the untold story!?
PB: Yes, it could have been the Pat Boone L.A Open even now.
LN: Tell me more about your love affair with the game of golf and what drew you to do the movie “The Mulligan”?
PB: I’ve just loved golf all of this time, but there’s a moral component that drew me to this story even more than the opportunity to help with the Payne Stewart Foundation – golf is the only sport I know of that has a moral component. It teaches kids to be honest, I don’t know about baseball, football, tennis or any other sport, but in golf, if you duff a shot you have to count the score.
LN: How old were you when you took up the game?
PB: I was in college when I first played, I was into tennis, football, baseball but not golf. I was infuriated at first because what I thought would be so easy, was the exact opposite. I got hooked and later began hosting several charity events including the Easter Seals event.
LN: Were there any tour players that you became friends with and formed relationships with during those early days?
PB: Yes, Wally Armstrong who wrote The Mulligan came to bible studies in our home during the years that I was at home more. I would always root for those players out there on the tour that were part of that Bible study group that came to our house. I also had very nice relationships with Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus – I’m going to be with him on February 4th, which is an unrelated event to golf. I’ve played golf with Jack, Arnie and with Gary Player, in fact I played golf with Gary back in his home country of South Africa.
LN: Where do play most of your golf these days?
PB: Bel Air. Bing Crosby was my sponsor to get into Bel Air, I was 23 years old. I played in the Crosby at Pebble Beach for 18 years.
Catherine Crosby (Bing’s wife) moved the event from Pebble Beach. It was her doing to move it to Durham, North Carolina (after his passing), her sons were begging her to please keep it at Pebble. He created the pro-am and it shouldn’t have been moved, but they wanted to call it the AT&T Crosby Pebble Beach tournament and she said no it’s got to be the Bing Crosby AT&T. She was ok with their name on it, but wanted Bing’s name first. So she moved it to Durham and I played in The Crosby tournament for about 8 years until it finally fizzled away.
LN: During the time of the Clam Bake at Pebble, Cypress Point was in the rotation, can you tell me what you remember about playing Cypress?
PB: The 16th is a fearsome hole, you have to hit it like 220 yards over the ocean onto the green. I’ve gone for it a few times, but never made it across. I probably could have made it if I hit my best shot, but never did make it. Once I was playing in the pro-am and whoever it was, maybe Tommy Armour – hit a shot with the wind coming across the Pacific, the shot was going to be perfect on the center of the green when the wind blew the ball so much that it hit a rock and bounced back up on the green. I played there again last year, but this time I laid up to the left and I asked the caddie and he said, “use your 8 iron.” I was in the fairway by that little tree there, I got it over onto the green but missed the putt. For those of us who can’t reach the green from the tee, that little tree on the corner makes it tough.
LN: You play most of your golf at Bel-Air these days, is the “Little Pro” Eddie Merrins still “holding court” out there?
PB: Yes he is. Eddie Merrins is still there and he says, “hit it with both hands Boone. Not just with your left, hit it with both hands.” I’ve been a member out there since 1954, he’s still out there doing his thing…
For more information on the new golf movie “The Mulligan” (coming out this April) click the link below –
A big thanks to the team at OnCourse Golf Public Relations