This month TV stars Jeremy Kyle and Ben Shephard go head-to-head and share memories from their early golfing careers, their dream fourballs and more
As part of the build up to the British Masters at Close House, TV presenter Ben Shephard and daytime telly legend Jeremy Kyle were in the North East for the celebrity pro am. Jeremy proved a perfect starter for the event – which include stars of television, music and sport while Ben got the chance to tee it up alongside Spanish legend Miguel Angel Jimenez. Both keen golfers, we caught up with them to talk about golfing memories good and bad, on-course success stories and plenty of embarrassing moments…
1 How do you fit golf in?
JK: I got hooked on crazy golf from a very young age on our annual family holiday to Lyme Regis. I joined Calcot Park aged 12 and spent every spare minute I could there. I loved the fact that you didn’t have to be tall, strong or even quick like all the other sports at school and I quickly got my handicap down to five. Nowadays that’s a pipe dream – at my age I’m delighted to get round any course before I pass out through exhaustion.
BS: I started playing when I was about 11 years old with some mates at Hainault in Essex. We were hopeless, but it kept us out of trouble. I was amazed I was allowed to clout stuff with what was essentially a metal light sabre!
2 Which is your favourite course?
JK: Royal Birkdale which I’ve been lucky enough to play many times, my home course in Barbados Apes Hill, and the only club ever to give me honorary life membership – Close House.
BS: St Enodoc in Rock, Cornwall – the most stunning course I’ve ever played. It’s got spectacular views, tricky holes and a bunker called The Himalayas which is every bit as intimidating as it sounds.
3 What’s your best ever round?
JK: I once shot a round of 72 – level par – at Calcot Park so many years ago I can’t really remember it.
BS: I had a dream round at St George’s Hill in Surrey. After a shocking front nine I had an eagle, two birdies and four pars on the back nine.
4 Which is your favourite golfing memory?
JK: Going to The Masters at Augusta National last year. Walking down to Amen Corner for the very first time was something I had to tick off my bucket list.
BS: Playing with my family over the years in Cornwall brought so many special moments, playing with my godparents in Australia, and alongside my father and brother-in-law at Thurlestone are all special.
5 What about embarrassing moments?
JK: Playing in a pro am at The Belfry many years ago, I managed to shank it at the car that was on offer for a hole-in-one in front of 500 people.
BS: Playing with my boys in Sicily recently (they’re beginners), I clattered my tee shot into the French windows of an apartment. The sunbathers that I nearly hit were very understanding when I apologised and explained it was my son’s ball and he’s just started (I still feel terrible!).
6 Do you have any golfing superstitions?
JK: I never drink more than three beers per round.
BS: Other than turning up with about three minutes before a tee time, I don’t have any. Maybe I should pick some up because my golf seems to be getting worse the more I play.
7 What are your strengths on the course?
JK: My ability to manoeuvre a golf buggy safely almost anywhere in the trees.
BS: My eternal sense of optimism.
8 And your weaknesses?
BS: Technically, I have a power fade which seems impervious to professional guidance. Emotionally, there are too many to list.
9 Who is your best golfing friend?
JK: Graham Wylie – he possesses the almost unique ability to somehow make me look good.
BS: I’ve just started playing with my kids, which is great. Dean, pro at my home club Wimbledon Park, is a great playing partner and mate.
10 Who is your favourite tour player?
JK: Lee Westwood insisted I pick him.
BS: I love watching all the Brits. I think Beef has brought something really special and different to the tour, not least that beard. I like watching Adam Scott play – he’s very stylish and elegant as a player which is how I imagine I play. I fear I’m actually closer to Boris Johnson – all fuss and bluster.
11 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
JK: I’d play at Close House with Lee Westwood, Graham Wylie and Alan Shearer.
BS: West Ham and England legend Bobby Moore, Tesla’s Elon Musk seems like a man with a plan, and Team GB hockey keeper Maddie Hinch – who produced one of the greatest sporting performances I’ve ever seen in the Olympic gold medal final. There’s nothing she can’t stop so she might be able to stop my power fade!