La sección de deportes del New York Times publica en su versión digital una entrevista de Bill Pennington con Justin Timberlake — en el CityParks Junior Golf Center de Nueva York, el pasado 25 de mayo — con motivo del concurso «Tee Off With Diablo Octane and Justin Timberlake Father’s Day Essay Contest».
El cantante reconoció que encuentra muchas metáforas de la vida en el deporte del golf: «Si sabes perder realmente bien, serás un gran jugador de golf, así que te enseña a resignarte», dijo entre bromas.
In Golf, Justin Timberlake Sees Metaphors for Life
Justin Timberlake does not moonwalk, or dance at all, after making a birdie putt on the golf course.
«Kind of tough in golf spikes», he said.
Golf’s random indignities do not bring out his inner, tormented actor, either.
«There are slings and arrows», he said, «but it’s just part of the game».
He does occasionally burst into song.
«Sure, why not, a golf course can be a spiritual place», he said. «Though I don’t know any golf songs».
Playing golf in Brooklyn just before Memorial Day weekend, Timberlake, 30, after nearly two decades of celebrity, found it easy to think of metaphors for life and golf.
«It really is a game of misses», he said, standing alongside the plebeian Dyker Beach Golf Course. «If you can miss really well, you’re a great golfer. So it teaches you acceptance. That, when you think about it, is acceptance».
It was his career as an entertainer that drew Timberlake to golf, a sport he plays with passion and expertise. A six-time Grammy Award winner, he is a six handicap, which means he regularly scores in the 70s.
«About eight years ago, I was on tour, and you get cabin fever because you’re always indoors», he said, leaning on his putter. «Every day becomes the same, like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’. So one day my stage manager said, ‘We’re going to play golf, want to come?’
«And it might sound silly, but I went out there and had a couple of beers, and all I was thinking about is getting a little ball into a little hole. It was just the best mental release from performing on stage. It took my mind somewhere else. I haven’t stopped chasing that little ball since».
Timberlake was first taught how to play golf by his stepfather, Paul Harless, when he was in grammar school.
«I showed him a golf grip and how to swing, and it was love at first sight», said Harless, who accompanied Timberlake to New York, where days earlier he had hosted «Saturday Night Live» for the fourth time.
But Timberlake said his early golf playing was short-lived.
With a furtive grin, he said, «I cared a lot more about girls, basketball and music».
If his concert tours brought him back to golf, his recent transition to a movie career has sometimes interfered with his appointed 18-hole rounds.
«I don’t have those Jack Nicholson, Samuel L. Jackson type of movie contracts where it’s written in that I get to play golf during the shooting», he said. «I don’t have that kind of leeway yet. But I get out there. I don’t let golf get too far away».
Indeed, Timberlake’s presence in golf has become pronounced. He hosts a PGA Tour event in Las Vegas in the fall and bought the golf course where he first learned to play outside Memphis. He hopes that course, renamed Mirimichi after a $16 million renovation, will host a major golf championship in the next dozen years.
He dresses like a golfer, although with a little more panache than most. In conversation, it is obvious Timberlake knows golf history, casually quoting Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. He is a stickler for the rules, likes to play quickly and tells good golf stories, which is easier for someone who eagled Augusta National’s famed 13th hole the first time he played it a few years ago.
His golf swing is smooth and athletic, which might be the work of his personal coach, Butch Harmon, former tutor to Tiger Woods and current teacher to Phil Mickelson. His stepfather, however, thinks the fluidity and efficiency of Timberlake’s game has more to do with his better-known career endeavors.
«Entertaining and golf have two important things in common — rhythm and harmony», Harless said. «If you can dance well, when you get on the golf course, you’re going to have a nice harmonious, rhythmic golf swing».
Timberlake did not disagree.
«Tempo is everything in music», he said. «I see a correlation to golf. The tempo and pace of a round are important. Having good balance, too».
He does not, however, see similarities between the pressure to entertain 20,000 fans and making a 3-foot putt.
«I don’t put that much pressure on myself on the golf course», he said. «So, I don’t feel that. Being an entertainer can be very, very intense. I felt that. To me, golf is getting out in nature with my buddies, or getting to play with my father».
Timberlake has partnered with Callaway Golf to sponsor a Father’s Day-inspired contest in which the grand prize is a day for two hosted by Timberlake at his Mirimichi golf course. Entrants can sign up for the contest at facebook.com/Callaway.
«We’ll all hang out, and it’ll be a great day for a father-son team that loves to play golf», Timberlake said.
In the meantime, while Timberlake has a new movie coming out June 24, «Bad Teacher», with his former girlfriend Cameron Diaz, and another in theaters next month, «Friends With Benefits», with Mila Kunis, he is looking forward to a spring and summer schedule free of major commitments.
«I’m excited about trying to get my handicap down», he said. «Well, that’s the plan. It’s still golf. We’ll see».
On this day in the Brooklyn sun, Timberlake was hitting some laser-straight drives and flashing a crafty short game. But there was only so much time for golf. The routinely busy Timberlake still had a couple of radio interviews to conduct and an appearance at New York’s CityParks Junior Golf Center.
A bevy of celebrated golf courses was less than 20 miles from where he stood — including Liberty National in Jersey City, where he is a member — but Timberlake said he would not be playing any of them during his New York visit.
«Got to work, man», he said. «Then I’ll play. But don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Trust me, I’ll play».
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