Before he starred in Tin Cup, actor and comedian Cheech Marin thought golf was a game for white guys in plaid pants but, after teeing off with his young son, he realized why it just might be the most important thing in the world.
Here he’s sounding off about gorse and ganja, stoner PGA players, and why golf is essential to a father son relationship … and the best tip he ever got …..
“’You’re not good enough to get pissed off.’ When I was taking golf lessons before ‘Tin Cup,’ Craig Stadler, who played himself in the movie, told me that tip after I got annoyed with myself for playing a bad shot. He said, ‘Cheech you’re just starting off … you’re not good enough to get pissed off.’ It’s good advice to remember when you’re having an off day.”
You hated golf before acting in “Tin Cup”?
I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t play it. It always looked like a game for white guys in plaid pants. I had gone out to a driving range with a few friends but that’s about it. While I was making Tin Cup, Gary McCord, who played a caddie in the movie, started giving me lessons and from that day on it became a passion.
So when did you get it, “Hey, this is a great game”?
When I played with my son, Joe, for the first time. He was visiting me on the Tin Cup set and he took some lessons with me. And I thought, “Wow, this is a game we could play forever.” My son was 9 then, he’s 21 now. He’s an excellent player and we still play together.
What’s scarier, the first day of a shoot or a five-foot putt?
Definitely the five-foot putt. The film stuff I can do rolling out of bed. But a five-foot putt separates the men from the boys.
Do you have any signature Cheech moves on the course?
When I miss a putt I look to the heavens.
Describe your style of play?
Concentrated relaxation. Letting things go. I’ve always thought of golf as a Zen sport – control and letting go simultaneously. It’s a winning strategy.
You made classic stoner records and movies with Tommy Chong. Have you ever considered making a Cheech and Chong golf movie?
I’ve got to say the thought never really crossed my mind, maybe because I would never be able to stop laughing at Tommy Chong in golf clothes.
What’s funny about golf?
That people take their inability so seriously. Let’s face it, most people are not good golfers. There are very few that are actually really good and have a repeatable swing. So it cracks me up when people get all mad because they hit the ball into the woods. I mean what did you expect with that swing!
What would you change about golf?
The game is too short. I’d like if it was 8 hours … like a regular job. Then I wouldn’t feel so guilty sneaking out to play a game.
What’s your worst club?
The No. 3 Wood. I don’t know why. It just baffles me for some reason. But I’ve taken steps to correct it … I’m not using a 3 wood anymore!
You have an 18 handicap. Any other?
Besides that I play golf? Well I have very bad knees from sports injuries playing basketball most of my life and that makes me very unstable. I’m always trying to adjust my stance because of that.
What has been the highlight of your golf career?
Watching my son get hole-in-one when he was 12. I was just amazed he could hit a 7 iron that far. I’ve never got a hole in one myself, though I’ve come close. But my son doesn’t hold it over me. He’s very modest about his golf accomplishments.
What would your golf nickname be?
Eagle Scout. For my ability to find balls in the woods.
You get to invent a post-round cocktail called “The Cheech.” What’s in it?
The Cheech would have Tequila, tonic water and lemon. Tradition meets Mexican.
Lots of people drink beer during their round. But can golf and marijuana co-exist?
They certainly can. And I think for those who need medical marijuana, it certainly should be available. Like, I’ve heard it’s very good if you have bad knees, for instance.
Ever had a round go “Up In Smoke?”
Sure. Don Johnson and I used to play a lot in San Francisco. And we had a rule that if you made two pars in a row you had to get high.
The tougher lie: ball in gorse or ball in ganja?
Gorse definitely. I was unfamiliar with it until I got to Scotland. To me it was just a quaint little term, “In the gorse.” It sounded kinda cool, like maybe something you could put in a salad. Right? And I get to Scotland and I land in the gorse and, Jeez, it’s like getting stuck in barbed wire.
Tiger looks like he’s never taken a toke in his life. Which golfers on the PGA Tour do you suspect are closet stoners?
About half of them. They were just from that generation. And have you ever seen the clothes that Jesper Parnevik wears? He’s got to be doing something there.
Favorite golf spot in the world?
It has to be the San Francisco Bay area. There are some gorgeous clubs there.
Where else in the world have you enjoyed playing?
Scotland and Wales. I played the Dunhill Cup one year in St. Andrews. That was great. Of course it’s every Chicano’s dream to tee off in St. Andrews. It’s born into our genetic code. In Wales I played Celtic Manor, the course for the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Straight up, who’s the better player … You or George Lopez? You or Don Johnson? You or Kevin Costner?
Don is the better player but I’m gaining on him. Kevin is a very good athlete, and he has better knees than me, so he’s probably the better player now. But on a given day I might be able to take him. George Lopez and I are about the same.
Favorite celebrity golf partner? Non-celebrity golf partner?
I like playing with George Lopez we have a lot of fun. I play with him about once every few months.
Cart or walk?
I would love to walk if I could but it’s real hard on me because of my knees. So I like to take a cart.
What kind of player would Cheech of Cheech and Chong be?
Inconsistent. I’m better than he would be. Way better.