By Jill Painter
SCGA member Glen Campbell, 73, is best known for his monster hit “Rhinestone Cowboy” — it nearly made him wreck his car when he first heard it on the radio. Music and golf are two of Campbell’s passions — he does, after all, have a daily tee time at Malibu Country Club, hosted the Glen Campbell Open at Riviera CC from 1971-83, and also had a longtime honorary membership at Riviera. He met Tiger Woods when Woods made his national debut as a two-year-old golfer on The Mike Douglas Show. Campbell has three aces and once owned a 2 handicap.
Why did you start playing golf?
I started by going down to the course with some of the guys. It was later (in life) — I had to be 25 or so. I thought I’d go out there and hit it, and instead, I missed the ball. I thought, “It can’t do that to me.” I don’t remember my first round of golf and I don’t remember who I was playing with, but I remember I missed the ball.
Are you proud of hosting the Glen Campbell Open?
It was a lot of work. I didn’t realize how much it would involve running around and going to press conferences, things like that. It was time-consuming. I wanted to know when I could be out there playing golf. It was on a really great golf course, Riviera. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it.
What’s your best round at Riviera?
I actually shot even par once. That was a long time ago. I’d rather play Malibu. It’s close to the house, and I can get there in 10 minutes.
You played in a lot of celebrity tournaments. What did you like about them?
They used to be a lot of fun. I made a lot of friends playing golf and a few enemies, thanks to people sometimes hitting into our group. I played with guys who, when someone came close to hitting us, they’d turn around, tee it up and hit it back at them. I’ve never done that, though.
Who’s in your dream foursome?
Lee Trevino. I really enjoyed playing golf with him — he was so much fun. I played with President Ford, also. He loved to play golf, but he was pretty much a hacker. Very nice man, though. I wanted to play with Elvis. I don’t know if he played, but I got to spend a lot of time with him. He was an incredible guy. He was so friendly. So nice. We got along great, both of us being from the South.
You’re a member at Malibu CC. How do you keep things interesting playing the same course?
I’ve got certain holes I’m getting even with. I really like to play Malibu. I get to use every club in my bag.
Do you have any old clubs in your bag?
I’ve got a couple. I broke my 3-wood. Dadgummit.
Did you break it because you hit it against a tree?
I hit it so hard the equipment couldn’t take it.
Do you sing while you’re playing golf?
Oh, sometimes. If I’m thinking about a song and I’ve got it in my head, I’ll run through a few bars of it. Like a Rhinestone golfer (he sings). It’s corny, the things you say sometimes.
How do you feel about “Rhinestone Cowboy”? It’s still a very popular song.
I was really thrilled about it — I thought it was a magnificent song. It’s hung in there all this time. It’s probably the best song I ever recorded.
Do you ever plan to retire from golf?
Probably not. There’s something about the little boy, the ball and trying to hit it with the stick. The first time I swung at a golf ball I missed. I whiffed two or three times because I looked up. You just have to keep going. I was going to make the ball sorry for that.
What frustrates you the most about the game?
You can be going along so nicely and hit a good drive, and the next tee — bingo — here you go out in the trees. You’ve gotta watch the club hit the ball.
What’s your handicap?
Gosh, I haven’t even looked in a while. I’m about a 6, but not consistently, though. I’ll shoot a 75 and the next time an 85. What did I shoot yesterday? A 76.
What’s your best golf shot?
I’d say I’m probably better with my driver. I’m not hot with any of them. I scramble around. Isn’t golf something? One day it’s diamonds, and the next day it’s nothing.
Who are your favorite golfers?
That Arnold Palmer, he’s my hero. We just became good friends. He called me when I was out (performing) on the road. He called me once and said, “I’ll pick you up.” I said, “Where are we going?” He said, “To play the Jackson guys from Detroit.” He picked me up in his jet. We went and played them. It was a charity tournament. Somebody couldn’t make it, so he called me.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m in the process of doing another album. It’s my 197th. No, I’m kidding. I don’t know how many I have. I’ve got some good songs that I’m really happy with. You’re in and out of the studio. You get it done when you get it done. The studios haven’t changed, but the whole process has changed.
What was it like meeting Tiger on the set of The Mike Douglas Show?
I watched him grow up. He’s a phenomenal player. Bob Hope was there, we were all laughing, there was a bunch of people. It was funny. He still swings the same way as he did when he was two.