For years, Mark Wahlberg was known by his reputation as one of Hollywood’s big-spending bad boys. These days, he drives the same intensity that used to get him into trouble, into a packed film schedule and a love for golf that borders on an obsession, as he reveals to RSNG.com.
With a driving yard and sculpted course in his back garden, and a new style of playing that he calls ‘power golf’, the only rule when teeing off with the Ted star is this: keep up!
Hitting The Gym Before Tee-Off
Nobody could ever accuse Mark Wahlberg of just stepping back to watch the world go by. As an Oscar-nominated actor whose early career spanned the worlds of modeling and music, the Massachusetts-born star has always lived life at 100mph – and despite having now spent decades at top cinematic billing, he’s in no mood to slow down.
“I’m usually looking for the complete 180 of what I’m doing right there and then,” the 51-year-old laughs. “From Transformers to The Gambler to Daddy’s Home to Deepwater Horizon, to Infinite and Father Stu it keeps it interesting. Every once in a while, I like to relax and let my guard down, but I’m still as focused and determined as I was when I first started out and think, you know, it’s all going to finish as soon as it starts. I’m fully aware of that.”
To that end, this year sees Wahlberg star in Me Time, the story of a father who, for the first time in a long time, finds himself with a spare schedule over the weekend.
“I can’t pretend this person is me,” he smiles. “Anyone who plays golf knows how lucky they are to be able to escape the wife and the kids for a few hours.”
I’ve managed to do 18 holes in a little over an hour – the trick is teeing off at 6am and just running that course
Although that’s only possible if Wahlberg can keep up physically – and it’s not the 6am round of golf that wears him out, more the punishing gym routine before the round of golf!
“I like to think I can keep up the physical stuff, but my body doesn’t play ball like it used to and it’s coming to a time when I can’t push myself that far anymore,” he concedes. “It’s getting harder to become a certain size or shave off some definition. I’m looking forward to playing the older guy, when there isn’t as much focus on that.
“That being said, waking up late, sleeping in… it doesn’t happen. I’m usually up by 4am, ready to hit the gym and go about my day.”
Necessity vs Addiction
While the gym always takes priority, winding down with a round of golf ranks high for the father of four. “The gym is a necessity but golf is an addiction,” he admits. “They both feed different parts of my brain, and I can’t really do without either.”
Indeed, in spite of the calming effect golf has had on Wahlberg’s character, there’s still somewhat of a roguish twinkle in his eye when he details just how far his obsession with the game goes. “I’ve got the bug bad,” he admits. “I’d lie – I’d say anything just to get to the tee!”
And in keeping with the star’s relentless attitude towards his acting career, a round of golf with Mark Wahlberg isn’t always a leisurely stroll. By combining his dual passions for golf and cardio, the muscular star has created his own unique way of taking to the course – “power golf”.
“I’ve managed to do 18 holes in a little over an hour,” he laughs. “The trick is teeing off at 6am and just running that course. You hit a drive and sprint to the ball while the caddies bring the carts and the clubs. Then you grab a club, hit the ball and sprint again. That way you can do a full round in an hour and 15 minutes if your putting is good – it’s pretty brutal!”
Whether that sort of technique is encouraged on some of the world’s most salubrious courses is a point Wahlberg doesn’t hang about to address. “Most of the time I’m in there and out of there. If I’ve done something to piss someone off I’m pretty unaware of it, so I’ll just assume I haven’t,” he laughs.
“It’s sometimes not the way my playing partners want the game played,” he says, probably referencing Transformers co-star Josh Duhamel, who went on record as saying the two never play together these days because of Wahlberg’s “unusual” course etiquette. Yet for an actor as busy as Wahlberg, it’s integral to his hectic regime.
My boys even get up early these days and just pound the driving range for half-an-hour before school – then again when they get home!
“The majority of movies I do I have to train for, so in order to do it and not have it affect the rest of my day and the schedule, I go to bed at 8.30pm and wake up at 4am,” he explains. “I am at the gym at 5am to 6:30am, or I get to the course at 6am and just power it. Then I get the kids to school and start doing some of my work stuff. Even when I’m getting ready for a major movie, I’m out at the tee, seven days a week.”
Why The Gym Powers Up Whalberg’s Golf
It’s not just about working in some game time around his acting pursuits, however. In working on his physique for relatively recent roles as a bodybuilder (Pain & Gain), US sniper (Lone Survivor) and powerhouse patriarch (Daddy’s Home), Wahlberg has noticed that the hours spent in the gym have not only improved his characters, but also his golfing.
What’s more, to aid the continual improvement in his golf, Wahlberg has even brought the game home with the installation of a driving range and mini-course in his back garden, designed by Dominic Nappi and his team at Back Nine Greens.
It’s another indicator of how anything to Wahlberg can quickly become an obsession, but the star is adamant that the extravagance was inspired in part by his two sons, Michael and Brendan, getting their first clubs and a nose for the game.
“My boys even get up early these days and just pound the driving range for half-an-hour before school,” he reveals – “Then again when they get home!”
A backyard course may seem to most golfing aficionados a luxury befitting only of a Hollywood pay-cheque, but for Wahlberg the only temptation to go full Entourage and succumb to the lavish lifestyle he once led in, is when visiting other golf courses.
“It used to be nightclubs and bars; now I find myself heading out into the country to seek out cool courses and those I can experience for the first time. Some of the best have been found by chance; others I’ve really made a point of playing and have been lucky enough to do so.
The World’s Greatest Golf Course
“I think probably the greatest experience was St Andrews. When you imagine that course has been played, in one form or another, for a thousand years, you know you’re treading the ground of real, genuine history. That’s really humbling when you think about it.”
Wahlberg admits to getting a bout of nerves as he was about to tee off at the famous Scottish links course. “It was a strange feeling to finally be there,” he admits. “I’d thought about it for a long time and had probably got myself a bit too excited!”
Closer to home, Wahlberg also cherishes his local course: “I also really enjoy playing at the Riviera, here in Pacific Palisades – the course is the closest to me. It’s more like a resort than a course – it’s got little function rooms and areas dotted around it.
“I know a few guys who will just go there for the restaurant and never get their clubs out the boot of the car!”
For Wahlberg, those ‘Entourage’ excesses are long past. “If you charter a plane with some friends and fly to a top resort to play, it all mounts up! I’ve not got much left to do anything crazy.
“What I will say is that golf gives me what nothing else does is freedom, air, energy. All your fears and frustrations fade away when you walk onto the golf course… right up until you hit the ball!”
WHAT NEXT? Want more leading man Hollywood stories? Read why life is never a dress rehearsal for Denzel Washington in this RSNG.com interview….
Photos: Shutterstock/ REX, MovieStillsDB