People Staff
September 09, 1996 12:00 PM

SCORNED BY MARK TWAIN AS A GOOD WALK SPOILED, BANNED in Scotland in 1457 because it interfered with archery practice, golf will simply not go away. In the U.S. alone, 23 million golfers work out their frustrations, while cultivating new ones, on 14,000 courses nationwide. The game has always offered fresh air and greenery; now it provides a chance of celebrity sightings. Movie stars. Rock and rollers. Sports heroes. Acquitted murder defendants. They’re all out there slicing, hooking and hoping for the best. CBS golf analyst Gary McCord, a former PGA pro, has coached some well-known hackers and seen many more—and is always willing to say what he thinks. Recently, McCord, 48, prepped Kevin Costner and Don Johnson for their roles in Tin Cup, the summer hit in which Costner plays a down-and-out driving-range pro on a Rocky-ish quest to win the U.S. Open. At first, says McCord, Costner “had a big old loopy swing with a big, full finish.” Besides learning how to swing like a pro, Costner needed to know how to act like one. “He had to learn how to stand on the tee with one hand on the driver, leaning with his legs crossed; where to put his glove; how to talk to a caddy,” says McCord. On this and the following pages, he sizes up the swings of other celebrity players.

DARIUS RUCKER Handicap: 27

Hootie & the Blowfish singer Rucker (right, with actor Stephen Baldwin at a pro-am tournament in Las Vegas) is more passionate than precise. “He needs improvement,” says Gary McCord. “As soon as they get off the tour for the new album, I’m gonna sit down with the band.”

BILL MURRAY Handicap: 15

His wardrobe may cause caddyshock, but his game is no joke. “Murray can really swing the club,” says McCord. He caused a minor scandal at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1993 after inducing a female spectator to romp with him in a bunker.

MICHAEL JORDAN Handicap: 10

“In basketball, what makes Michael so attractive is his grace of movement,” observes McCord, who says that looseness handicaps Jordan on the links: “In golf, you don’t want anything to move.” Recently, says McCord, Michael’s swing has tightened up.

EDDIE VAN HALEN Handicap: 25

Van Halen, says McCord, “likes to play, but he doesn’t know the game enough yet. He got out there at the Bob Hope Chrysler I Classic a couple times in front of a lot of people, and I don’t think it was a very good experience for him.”

BILL CLINTON Handicap: 12

His handicap makes him the best First Golfer since JFK. But President Clinton (with daughter Chelsea at Camp David) shows more desire than form, even though he has been known to hone his game on the South Lawn of the White House. His swing, says McCord, is “an over-the-top carnival ride with more foot movement than a Nureyev dance routine.”

RICHIE SAMBORA Handicap: Pending

Bon Jovi guitarist Sambora is so new to the game that he doesn’t have a handicap—but is looking forward to hitting the fairways with his wife, Heather Locklear. “It’s a great way to clear your mind when you’re on tour,” says Sambora. “It’s an incentive to get out of your hotel room.”

JOANNA KEARNS Handicap: 21

CHERYL LADD Handicap: 18

Ladd (left) golfs for therapy. “It’s my shrink,” she says. Kearns sees the game as a met a-fore! “Golf,” she says, “is like life, where everything gets in your way.”

SYLVESTER STALLONE Handicap: 10

When Stallone can’t get to a golf course, he hits balls into a net—even at 3 a.m. on top of a Los Angeles skyscraper during the shooting of 1993’s Demolition Man. “As soon as the director would yell ‘Cut!’ ” says his instructor Ron del Barrio, “he’d start practicing—in his costume.”

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