As the dark and mysterious Agent Dale Cooper in "Twin Peaks," there was nothing actor Kyle MacLachlan liked more than a slice of cherry pie and "a damn fine cup of coffee." These days, happiness for MacLachlan is a bucket of balls, a deserted driving range (preferably in St. Andrews) and a beer waiting for him at the Jigger Inn, the cozy pub that overlooks the 17th hole of the Old Course.
"I'm not quite a range junkie, but I just love beating balls. I'll play golf all day then head for the range instead of the bar," he says. "It makes that first beer all the more special."
MacLachlan has 18 holes to go before he gets that beer. The 50-year-old 9-handicapper is standing by the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse before his tee time in the Dunhill Links, a European Tour pro-am contested over three of Scotland's finest links: The Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. "You really do feel you are walking on hallowed ground here," he says, looking around. "The first time I played here I hooked it out of bounds into the streets of St Andrews."
Times have changed. On Friday morning the actor ripped his opening drive down the middle of the first fairway.
This is MacLachlan's fifth appearance in the tournament, which is a little like the AT&T at Pebble Beach, but with wool hats and gloves. His regular partner is Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley. "I'm a perfect partner in a pro-am," MacLachlan says. "I can play three or four holes really well and make some birdies. And then disaster strikes. My score is not as important as hitting the ball well. If I can do that, then I'm happy. It's all about the strike, as Bob Torrance [father of Sam and teacher of Padraig Harrington] says."
The star of "Blue Velvet" and "Desperate Housewives" had never played with a Tour pro until paired here with McGinley in 2001. "I saw what it is like to strike the ball properly," he says. "Rhythm is their thing." The experience made such an impression on MacLachlan that he wrote about it in Sports Illustrated.
Growing up in Yakima, Washington, MacLachlan was introduced to golf as a nine-year-old by his father, who had been an able player in college. He grew up idolizing Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus. But, like many amateurs, he enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the game. When his acting career took off, he left golf behind, playing only a couple of rounds annually for the next 25 years. "I felt frustrated that I couldn't get any better and couldn't commit enough time to do anything about it," he says.
In 2000 Michael Douglas invited him to play in his annual charity celebrity-am tournament and MacLachlan decided to dust off his clubs. A year later he made his debut at the Dunhill Links Championship, struck up a friendship with McGinley, experienced the home of golf for the first time, and re-ignited his love for the game. "I got the golf bug back," he says. "When I saw St. Andrews, my eyes were on stalks. There is nowhere else quite like it. It has a special atmosphere."
Today the star hauls his clubs between the Los Angles set of "Desperate Housewives" and his home in New York, where he says he is as content playing muni courses as he is teeing it up with his Hollywood pals at places like Riviera and Bel Air. "When I get an invite from Kenny G or Dennis Hopper, we play skins for small dollars. That way, it's easy to follow. We're actors, remember," he says.
By Friday evening MacLachlan's weekend was hanging by a thread. His team scores of 68 (Carnoustie) and 65 (St. Andrews) made it unlikely that he'll make the amateur cut. And if he doesn't, you know where to find him: on the range, or in the Jigger Inn rooting on his pal McGinley. The Irishman is 8-under-par and in contention. He will be keeping illustrious company in the pub others struggling to keep pace with the cut are George Lopez, Hugh Grant, Marcus Allen, and Huey Lewis.