‘I put the shot of Piers Morgan on Twitter, people said I should have smashed him’
The prospect of a prone Piers Morgan and a free shot with a driver would be too much for some to resist.
“I’ve always got a good mate who’s a dentist,” laughs David Edwards of one of the highlights of his trick-shot show – a full-blooded strike off a tee held precariously close to the face of the ‘willing’ participant.
One slip and Morgan would have met his match in the Cayman Islands and there were plenty on social media wishing Edwards, a former European Tour player, had been a little less careful.
“When I put the shot of Piers on Twitter, he tweeted it and a lot of people said I should have smashed him.
“But I can honestly say – I watch him on TV – and he’s a really nice guy.”
— Gladstone Small (@GladstoneSmall) July 23, 2014
Morgan’s far from the only celebrity to put their trust, and facial features, momentarily into Edwards’ care.
“I suppose the most famous golfer I’ve had laying on the ground with a peg on his face is Rory McIlroy at the 2010 Dubai World Championship.
“He came across to see me when I was on the practice range hitting some shots and he walked up with Louis Oosthuizen. We got chatting.
“I said, ‘Do you want to have a go at hitting one of my long drivers?’ He didn’t hit it very well and it went down the left.
“I got Louis lying down on the ground, and I gave Rory the driver and I held the tee peg. I said, ‘Do you want to hit it?’ Rory said, ‘No way!’ I said, ‘Shall we swap?’
“I put him on the ground and I don’t actually think he thought I was going to hit it.”
McIlroy’s reaction was one of part humour and part relief. Everything stayed in place. But his eagerness to get involved shows the fascination we all have at watching someone do something neat with a club and a ball.
Wesley Bryan, long before he won a PGA Tour title at the RBC Heritage, was a YouTube star for his trick-shots with his brother George.
Instagram is awash with amateur videos of players flipping a ball into a paper cup after it’s successfully negotiated a room full of objects or sinking a string of putts from outrageous gradients.
“To be honest, you see things on video and you can see when that shot has been nailed,” says Edwards. “The other thing, when you are doing little things like that, is you can pick the best.
“What I am doing is not just a trick show.”
Edwards has been taking his roadshow around the world for more than two decades. It’s seen him perform at the Ryder and Solheim Cups, in 60 countries and at more than 40 European Tour events as well as at countless clubs.
It’s evolved into a full day event, with filming, commentary and after dinner speaking. He even runs the auction. As Edwards puts it, “I bring a complete package”.
But it was hardly by design. Edwards qualified for the Open at Royal St George’s in 1981 – the year Bill Rogers swept to a four shot win – and served as a PGA professional at a string of Yorkshire clubs.
One of those was Catterick and his subsequent connections with the Army base there would see him take trips to Cyprus to teach the soldiers to play golf.
During one clinic, he started striking balls off the tops of beer bottles. Each time he returned to the island, all they wanted to know was when he was going to perform his expanding repertoire.
The show has moved on just a little since then.
“I do what I’d call the Edward Scissorhands where I hit balls with a club in each hand. I hold the world record, which is 312 balls hit in under three minutes.
“I am hitting balls off high tees, long drivers, bouncing balls – hitting them on the volley – using hosepipes.
“I hit off knees and chairs and I do impersonations of many of the leading tour professionals.
“I smash balls through blocks of wood, hit them off building bricks. What I’d like to say is that what I’m doing is not just trick shots – it’s a show. I entertain people and try to get as much audience participation as possible.”
Which is where we get back to McIlroy. Isn’t it a bit dangerous hitting a ball off someone’s face? Has he ever missed?
Edwards explains: “There is an element of safety, as to where the ball is actually held. The thing is if you get it wrong, the tee peg punches down and you’ve got to be careful you don’t hit down with the peg because it goes into the face.
“It’s all about the feel. It’s a shot I have done for many years.
“I do shots where I am hitting balls when they are coming out of tubes, landing on a slab and then I am hitting them in the volley.
“There are a lot of people who hit trick shots but, being a PGA golf professional, I think quality of strike is important. This is what I get from people like McIlroy and Lee Westwood.
“They don’t just compliment about the show but about the ball striking. To me, ball striking is important as is hitting the target area.”
With the season about to get under way, Edwards will once again criss-cross the globe. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m very privileged because I meet a lot of interesting people who never play golf and you inspire them and you are like the Pied Piper trying to grow the game.
“You meet a lot of celebrities and sporting celebrities and I am very honoured to have that opportunity and that is what the show has given me.”
You can take a closer look at Edwards’ show by visiting his website.