The late Sir Alec Guinness used to say that he couldn't get under the skin of a character until he got the walk right, and it's always intriguing to watch the way people move.
Mark James, for example, looks like Groucho Marx heading unstoppably towards a pretty woman; while Nick Faldo has perfected the upright briskness of an ex-Guards officer, complete with flat stare.
Andrew Coltart, by contrast, glides. He's tall, long-legged and calls to mind the way that Seb Coe used to cover distance with an apparently effortless grace, and the comment about Ken Brown looking like a walking 1-iron. If Coltart were on a dance floor you get the impression that he wouldn't do much but it would still look good (which has probably got all the people who know him laughing fit to bust).
And he should look good. He's 31-years-old and pretty well paid for doing something he loves, proud father and family man and beginning to get back to his best after a season in which he struggled with his putter.
He says: 'It's showing good signs; my stroke seems to be a lot more consistent now and surprisingly enough, even on poor greens which I've from time to time been putting on, the ball has found the bottom of the hole, which really is delightful. It's making it enjoyable again because it's very difficult, I'm sure you can imagine if, no matter how well you're playing tee to green you're walking off with level par rounds and stuff like that because you can't get the ball in the hole.'
So what's the difference?
'It depends how much time you've got but essentially I'm not taking the putter back swiftly on the inside, then shoving it on the outside closed, then either returning it closed or returning it open. The bottom line being it was never in the same place at any stage for two strokes in a row. That's been the big difference now; it's going back and returning to the same place.'
Glad we've got that sorted out.
Despite being only in his early 30s, Coltart is a pro-golfing veteran of eight years (he actually played two events as an amateur in '91 and another in '92 but didn't get onto the European Tour full-time until '93) and his career has been more 'one step forward and one back' than relentless improvement. He has, for example, only won once in Europe but has 11 second or third places and has won over two and a quarter million pounds.
But for him, as so many others, money is essential and a way of keeping score of progress but winning, and being in contention to win, is the primary goal.
For example, in a question about The Belfry in September he says: 'I'm trying to win tournaments and the Ryder Cup comes, hopefully, if you're doing your job properly. I want to get in the top-10 in Europe and the top-50 in the world rankings and if I'm not able to do that I probably won't be in the Ryder Cup team.
'If that happens I'll be disappointed. First of all if I don't make my goals for the year and secondly by not making the goals I won't make the Ryder Cup.'
But despite the disappointment he would undoubtedly feel, it is clear that Coltart is firmly rooted in his family and that all else pales into relative insignificance. Ask about his wife, Emma and daughter Bonnie, for example, and he enthuses in a way not apparent when he's talking golf.
'We're not really getting the sleepless nights; we're 20 months down the line and she's started to sleep through from about 16 months so it's very enjoyable now,' he says.
'It's fantastic but it was a bit of an eye opener at the beginning. I think none of us really sort of understand what it's like. You hear everybody, almost in a patronising way say: "It'll change your life." Well of course it will change your life, it changes your life when you get married and then with parenthood you have another body, another person there to feed and be with and that changes your whole routine and perspective. If you want to have kids it has to change your life; you want it to.'
Scotland is blessed with an outstanding crop of young players at the minute, many of whom will turn pro later this year, and it seemed appropriate to ask Andrew what advice he would give them.
He considered carefully, as he did with every question, before saying: 'Number one; the game doesn't change and irrespective of what golf course it is you're still capable of playing that golf course to the same standard as you do as an amateur and that should still be good enough to make you a good living out here.'
Then came the words of caution. 'But you've got to fit into your environment,' he added. 'Being able to do that includes being a bit respectful to some of the guys who've been out here, asking questions, wanting to learn, appreciating that you're starting off at the bottom of the ladder.
'It's very difficult to come out and it all seems fantastic and you can get carried away with the whole thing and then realise it's your job, your future, your livelihood. It is a game but it can be tough to treat as both a game and your job. You can't come out here and have a laugh and muck about; you've got to work at it and work hard.
'The guys out here - Olazabal won last week but he was out here [on the practice range] yesterday afternoon. I remember Langer winning the European Open and he was in Germany working the next day.
'You've got to keep grafting and working. Nobody will sit up and pay any attention to what you did as an amateur, you've got to start proving it out here. Although it's better to have achieved what these guys have achieved to get a bit of confidence as a stepping stone to being out here but you're starting from scratch again.'
And with those words, he glided smoothly away.
Andrew Coltart on:
Playing Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup singles:
'The confidence in the team was very high and you couldn't really lose. You were expected to get drilled; he was in the middle of a particularly hot streak, it was in America. But what an environment, what atmosphere and what a player to play against. And I loved it; thoroughly enjoyed it, was very focused, was quite pumped up and played pretty good.'
'I had problems with the galleries but I think most if us did. I think it's something that very much needs to be paid attention to and needs to be ensured that it starts to dwindle away. Ever since Kiawah Island it has changed and although it's huge business and huge money I still think that general golf course etiquette has got to be adhered to. And lately it hasn't been.'
The Old Course at St Andrews
'I love it because of what it is, what it has been and what it will be. Because of where it is, who's played there, the characteristics of the course, its uniqueness - there's not another golf course like it in the world and there never will be. In terms of championship golf it may not be what a lot of people who come to it for the first time might expect but that's the magic of the place.'
'In respect of every other golfer who's out there, he has everything. And for him it's not enough; he's still seeking to improve and trying to get better and trying to find out, instead of just winning majors, how to win them by larger and larger margins. He's hugely impressive when it comes to talking to the media and press and he's a young guy but doesn't act like a young guy. He's humble, he's respectful, he's incredibly knowledgeable.
We've all come out here as youngsters; you think you're the monkey's chestnuts or whatever but he knows that he is yet doesn't act as if he is. He's obviously got a confidence and arrogance on the golf course but off it he's as normal as he could possibly be in his situation.'
What amateurs could do to improve
'There's an awful lot of amateurs really don't pay attention to where their body and everything is lined up. They pay an awful lot of attention to where their balls go and don't realise that that's the result of misalignment.
If they just took 15 minutes a day to check their alignment it would work wonders. If you've got a gun and you're not pointing it at the target, how the hell are you going to hit the target? You've got to get people lined up properly and I see a lot of amateurs who don't have a clue when it comes to that.'
|| 16 - NOVEMBER 2001