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“Golf absorbs you as intensely as acting”

“Do you like to play? Otherwise I’ll show you how it’s done ”, asks Andy Garcia in the third part of the mafia epic“ The Godfather ”. And: “Do I look like a guy who is losing?” Garcia excelled in 1990 as the late adoptive smart-rabid Vincent Santino Corleone and actually referred to gambling in the casinos of Atlantic City. Equally, however, could be the golf passion of the US actor, director and producer, who has been one of Hollywood’s top guards since he embodied the infamous Al Capone as a young cop in “The Incorruptible” in 1987 alongside Kevin Costner and Sean Connery by Robert De Niro who lays down the craft.

Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Dunhill Links Championship

Garcia was the self-sacrificing, loving husband of Meg Ryan in “When a Man Loves a Woman”, the slick and infamous casino boss Terry Benedict in the “Ocean’s” trilogy with Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Brad Pitt or the cheesy Mexican hotel manager Fernando Cienfuegos in the musical film “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” with ABBA songs, to name just a few examples from his long filmography.

Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.  (Photo: Getty)

Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. (Photo: Getty)

But the native Cuban with a handicap of 7, who is celebrating his 65th birthday this week (April 12), also belongs to the regular ensemble of golf tournaments with VIP players, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the Monterey peninsula or the Dunhill Links Championship in Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and the Old Course in St. Andrews.

Team winner 1997 with 43 under par

Seen in this way, the 1997 team triumph on California’s coast near Garcia is almost as important as the Oscar nomination for his role as “godfather son”. At 43 under par, he and Paul Stankowski won. At that time the amateur competed with a handicap of 18 and, after complaints by the competitors, the tournament management “norted” to a 10 handicap. The father of four, who has had an intense friendship with play partner Pablo Larrazabal since his Dunhill appearances, does not care about such numbers.

Autodidact without any coaching lessons

“Golf is a wonderful game. It can be just as engrossing as acting, ”says Garcia, a self-taught golfer since he was a twelve-year-old boy in Miami Beach when he hit the first balls with clubs. At that time, the “Arnie’s Army Days” were held in Florida, a kind of golf experience day for fans of Arnold “The King” Palmer, ie for everyone.

“The Untouchables” with Connery and Costner

Inspired by this, Garcia, real name Andrés Arturo García Menéndez, and his buddies chased the balls in the parks, staked courses, used sandy areas as bunkers and scored for pocket money. In the early 1970s, they indulged their playful instinct on early morning excursions to the public square of Bayshore, where the bullies were allowed to go because the sprinklers were still running anyway.

Andy Garcia at the 3M Celebrity Challenge.  (Photo: Getty)

Andy Garcia at the 3M Celebrity Challenge. (Photo: Getty)

Later there were “other distractions” (Garcia) for the son of an English teacher and a lawyer and avocado farmer, who had migrated with his parents and two siblings from Havana to Florida at the age of five, where the Garcias subsequently built a multi-million dollar perfume company. It didn’t come until 1985 back to golf when fellow actor Richard Bradford dragged him onto the course during the filming of “The Untouchables” – with Connery and Costner, two other world-famous golf aficionados were on set.

Golf with Jack Nicholson and Joe Pesci

“From that time on I played regularly and, above all, trained”, Garcia once told the magazine “Today’s Golfer”: “And since I’ve never had a coaching lesson, I have become a pure emotional player for better or for worse.” The closer he is to the hole come, “the better I get”, smiles the charismatic, versatile mime with a preference for berets or pork pie hats as golf headgear: “I certainly don’t hit particularly wide balls, but my short game is very constant.”

Andy Garcia at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.  (Photo: Getty)

Andy Garcia with a pork pie hat at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. (Photo: Getty)

Home club in the “dream factory” triangle

His home club is Lakeside in Los Angeles. The square, which opened in 1924, was designed by the brilliant architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie called “one of the best in the world” at the time, lies in the triangle of the “dream factory” film studios Burbank, Universal and Warner Bros. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra have already marched on Lakesides fairways; and Garcia won the Michael Douglas charity tournament with Joe Pesci (“A great player”) and Jack Nicholson (“I love being in flight with him because he puttes great”).

“Should I throw a bat, I’ll stop immediately”

Basically, however, in golf, Garcia is “about exercise in the fresh air, a few good shots, the community in flight, the personal challenge”: “I accept my weaknesses and am proud of my strengths,” he says. “And if I should ever throw a club into the area out of anger, I’ll give up golf immediately that day.”



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