Goldfinger the cause of Connery’s golf obsession
Sir Sean Connery has enjoyed an incredible career and starred in many movies around the world but it will be for playing supercool British spy James Bond that he will always be remembered.
The character had a reputation for living dangerously echoed for a while by the man who portrayed him with his early forays to the casino.
However it was while preparing for his third Bond movie, Goldfinger, that the Scot became hooked on another, less risky pastime and his love of golf has been well documented over the years.
He grew up in Scotland near the Bruntsfield Links but never really had much desire to play the game, with all things theatrical his calling from an early age.
That all changed when producers told him that he would be involved in a golf scene during the film and he needed to ensure he could play the game for the authenticity of the movie.
He began to take lessons close to the famous Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and the rest is history.
Gert Frobe, who played the villain Goldfinger, was already an accomplished golfer and Connery knew that he had to match the German to hold his own in the scene.
He certainly did that and so began an obsession with the sport which, he admits, took over his life.
Now 87, the retired actor has revealed that he saw the game as a metaphor for life as players compete against themselves and the course, with self-discipline the key.
He learned the challenges of links golf at Royal Dornoch in the north-east Highlands during the filming of Goldfinger and has always preferred to play on the coast.
It is the simplicity of the venues that draws him there and the fact you are at the mercy of Mother Nature throughout the 18 holes.
Connery was well-known on the pro-am circuit and even played with another golfing celebrity, the late great Bing Crosby, in one of his showbusiness amateur teams.
It prompted him to get involved with launching a pro-am tournament in Scotland, with Royal Troon selected as the venue.
It proved successful, with many faces from the world of showbiz and sport lending their support, while sponsors were only too happy to get on board the project.
Knighted in 2000, the octogenarian continues to play the sport that he feels is like a religion and one that he has learnt to respect over the years.
Golf has afforded Connery that chance to meet many interesting people including World War II flying ace Douglas Bader, and his spirit in not letting the fact he had prosthetic legs stop him from playing golf was not lost on the young actor.
Bader got his handicap down to five and he was as tricky to beat on the course as the Germans had found out many years before.
Connery will leave a legacy of many brilliant films but his obituary will doubtless say ‘James Bond actor’, and, while his role in the iconic Goldfinger movie propelled him to superstardom, it did much more to his life than the public can ever have known.