Q&A: Surfer Kelly Slater
February 08, 2014
By Mark Stevens, PGATOUR.COM
- February 08, 2014
- Kelly Slater started playing golf at age 23 and says he now plays 150 rounds per year. (Gross/Getty Images)
Q&A with surfer Kelly Slater
Slater grew up in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and has been crowned ASP World Tour Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles from 1994 to ‘98.
When did you begin playing golf?
I didn't start until about 1995 when I was 23.
Did you learn on your own or did you have a coach?
I just kind of got into it on my own. Started reading the Ben Hogan book and then became a Moe Norman fan. I've always watched a lot of stuff on TV and picked up tips there from Dave Pelz to Rick Smith to Butch Harmon.
First memory of going to a professional golf tournament?
Los Angeles at Riviera Country Club. When I first started I played a lot of golf with Tommy Armour III and Sandy Armour and T Bone Burnett who is playing this week at Pebble Beach. I played with those guys like almost daily for a year or two. And then I would go down to Torrey Pines or the Riviera to watch Tommy play.
Favorite club in your bag?
I'm probably best with the driver.
What's your average distance with the driver?
Probably 275 yards. But I hit it pretty straight. So that helps me score a bit better.
Favorite memory from this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am?
Definitely not the weather. (Laughter.) Probably playing with Davis Love III. I've never met Davis before and we have a mutual friend or two. But that and playing with Doug MacKenzie again and actually Nick Watney. I've only recently met Nick, but he's good friends with a bunch of guys that I know in Santa Barbara.
Nick Watney is a big surfer?
Yeah, so Nick's really kind of getting into the surfing fanaticism.
Did he ask for any lessons?
Not yet. But I randomly met these guys golfing and they didn't know who I was or anything about me and we started playing golf together and they turned out to be friends of Nick. So I got this funny little group of golf buddies of mine and we are all mutual friends of Nick’s.
How many rounds do you play a year?
At least 150 rounds. I play a lot. Sometimes I'll play every day of the week and then I won't play for two weeks or something.
Would you rather play on stage with Pearl Jam or make a birdie here at 18 at Pebble?
I've done both, so. They're both good.
Which one is better?
I don't know. You don't pass up playing on stage with Pearl Jam. First time I went to a Pearl Jam concert Eddie (Vedder) asked me to come up and I was too scared. And then I thought, ‘Oh, I got to do that.’ And then he asked me to play again in San Diego and I got to play with him there.
How about an eagle on No. 18 at Pebble Beach?
An eagle on Pebble? Now you're pushing it. Yeah. Last year I made birdie here and I almost actually chipped it in, it would have been for eagle, but yeah, I don't know. I was a musical fan way before I was a golfer, so, yeah, I don't know. I would be partial on that one.