While we all have dreams of living life to the full when we retire, few of us will have the means to plan a £700k, six-month global golf tour like Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger is known in Spin for his love of the course.
You can check out William Hill for all the best odds on golf’s major tournaments – and while you may not find Bale’s name amongst the backed major winners just yet, he is one of many sports top stars who can’t get enough of the fairways.
Football and golf have enjoyed a close relationship for many years. Plenty of soccer’s most notable characters can be found on the greens when they’re not strutting their stuff on the other turf.
Andriy Shevchenko, Pep Guardiola, Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, and Peter Crouch are among those to have been snapped on the course. And sometimes the relationship between footballers and golf can be that bit more obscure.
England’s World Cup Golden Boot winner Gary Lineker made the transition from stadium to the studio as he became pundit, then host, on Match of the Day. But his love for golf was evident when the BBC gave him a stint presenting both The Masters and The Open.
Michael Gray, Thomas Sorensen, Phil Babb, and Jason McAteer were among the Premier League players who invested in the Golf Punk magazine, which now lives on as a website.
FA Cup-winning manager Harry Redknapp happily claimed his retirement would allow him to spend more time on the golf course, and he’s not the only one to feel good attempting to sink a putt.
Perhaps Bale is the greatest example.
According to the Guardian, the Madrid winger admitted he was happy to be nicknamed the ‘Golfer’ by teammates after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois labeled him just that. Bale dismissed newspaper gossip the moniker was derogatory because the Welshman’s love of the sport was distracting him from his day job, confessing that he can’t get enough of the sport.
Indeed he can’t, as his end-of-career trip and private back garden course proves.
But why do footballers find themselves drawn to golf?
“You can be away by 2 pm most days so footballers have often got a bit of free time on their hands,” Kevin Davies told Sky Sports.
“It’s a great way of getting out and about with a few of the boys and having some downtime.”
As well as the social aspect for wealthy young men for whom appearances in the pub are frowned upon, golf also offers the chance to relax.
There are few places where a handful of few hours’ entertainment allows you to be away from the flashing bulbs of the paparazzi and the attention of the public like the golf course, which must hold a great deal of appeal for the rich, famous and in-demand.
Paul Gascoigne preferred the calmness of fishing, but for many of his peers, it’s golf.
And there is the added bonus of a competitive edge.
Let’s be honest, you don’t make it to the top of any sporting profession without the continued desire to be the best.
Just ask Gareth Bale.