Final preparations are being made for the photo shoot. The wardrobe stylist, Christine Sonnenberg, has brought in tens of thousands of dollars in designer clothing, but after inspecting every garment, Poulter disappears to his vast closet and returns with his own blazer. Trying to cheer up Sonnenberg, he says, "The shirt and tie you picked bring the whole thing together." Poulter's clothing obsession began at Leighton Buzzard. "He was always meticulous in the way he folded the sweaters," says an old colleague, Phil Abbott.
It was dissatisfaction with the prevailing golf togs that inspired Poulter to found IJP Design seven years ago. At one point during the day Nemer mentions that the company's designers would like more input in scripting Poulter's outfits during tournament weeks. "Nobody tells me what to wear," Poulter says, ending the discussion.
During a break in the photo shoot Poulter retreats to the kitchen, cooling off with a homemade smoothie featuring spinach, kale, celery, apple, pear, lemon juice and ginger. He simultaneously works a phone, a tablet and a laptop. He checks his Twitter feed, again.
While more photos are being taken, Poulter surveys the crew to see if anyone is hungry. Without waiting for an answer, he instructs Nemer to order in sandwiches for everybody.
Poulter gobbles up a turkey sandwich while signing a couple of dozen Masters flags for a corporate sponsor. He labors over every signature, then adds a sketch of a flagstick. "Ninety percent of the guys on Tour, you can't read their names," he says. "Why even bother? It's not that hard to make a little extra effort for people." When he is finished Nemer asks him to add "Best Wishes" to each flag. Poulter begins to grumble but is cut off by his agent: "Ian, DBAC." That's their coded reality check for whenever Poulter starts acting like a diva. It stands for Don't Be A C---.
Poulter finishes adding "Best Wishes" to the flags and reflects on a disappointing Masters; he shot 76--75 for his first missed cut on any tour since September 2011. "I drove it poorly, simple as that," he says. At the 18th tee on Friday he gave his misbehaving driver to a kid standing nearby. Katie has another explanation: "I think he was too excited. He wants so badly to play well in the big events, sometimes it affects him."
The short week at the Masters was especially disappointing because Poulter had a few special guests on hand. One was Andy Day, a Leighton Buzzard member who once staked the aspiring pro with £1,500. As an enduring thank you, Poulter has invited Day to each of the nine Masters he has played in. This year he also imported Abbott, his old mate from the pro shop, who says he was "chuffed to bits" by the invitation. "That's Ian," he adds. "He's never changed. His lifestyle surely has, but he remains the same down-to-earth person he always was. He hasn't forgotten where he comes from."
Having finished the last of the photos, Poulter is back on his laptop. He checks Twitter again, then goes to his favorite website, Ferrari.com. As he explains, there are five Ferrari supercars prized by the most avid of collectors. He owns three of the models: a 288 GTO, from 1984 (in fact, it was the first one built); a '90 F40 (with exactly 1,283 miles); and a 2002 Enzo. Poulter is pursuing a '96 F50, and he's on the waiting list for the soon-to-be-released LaFerrari, a 963-horsepower beast that has created a frenzy in the car world. It will carry an estimated selling price of $1.5 million.
Poulter loves his toys like a kid with a Matchbox car, but he can also cite reams of data that collectible Ferraris are appreciating in value faster than almost any other commodity. "You can buy a Fabergé egg, and it just sits there on a shelf," he says. "These cars are just as beautiful, but you can have fun with them and they get more valuable every day. They're a passion of mine for sure, but also an important investment."
Poulter skips up his steel and glass staircase to change clothes for a trip to the driving range. To walk into his closet is to experience sensory overload. Throbbing rock music is playing through hidden speakers. There are three large drawers just for belts, which he matches to the color of his sunglass frames. A glass case displays 42 watches, many of them bejeweled. Clothes of every imaginable style and fabric hang on IJP logo hangers, each uniformly spaced, a tic that drives Katie crazy. "He definitely has some OCD," she says, "and it comes out with the clothes."
Poulter is milling around his "golf studio," which occupies two of his six garage bays. "It's like a tour van without wheels," he says. There is an indoor hitting area with cameras and a launch monitor, a grinding wheel to work on his wedges, and various other contraptions for tuning his clubs. Three dozen large leather golf bags are stuffed with old clubs, and some 40 putters sit in an adjacent cubby. "This room gives me an advantage over most of the other guys," Poulter says. Even if that's not true, he believes it, which is just as important.
Poulter roars off in his souped-up golf cart, heading for the driving range at Lake Nona Golf Club, which is about 500 yards from his house. With his stereo pumping hip-hop, he tests 10 shafts to find a replacement for the discarded driver. He sets up a Trackman launch monitor, which feeds data onto his iPad. The numbers are helpful, but his eyeballs are the final arbiter. He is looking for a "nice, tight, two-yard draw."
As always, Poulter works in solitude; he hasn't had a swing instructor in years. While screwing in a new shaft, he explains, "You're all alone out there between the ropes. You better be able to figure out your swing by yourself." This self-belief impresses even the world's best players. "If golf was a game based purely on talent, I don't know if Poulter would be top 10 in the world," says Luke Donald. "But because of his cockiness—shoulders back, that walk and talk—he gets a lot out of his game. I think it's good for anyone to watch him and emulate that in a way. You have to hold yourself high, and he does that very well."
"Killed that one," Poulter says, to no one in particular. He has moved on to testing new three-woods, and he has just flown one 257 yards into what he calls a 15-yard wind. Poulter has won a dozen tournaments around the world, including a pair of World Golf Championship events, but he knows his individual accomplishments are not commensurate with his Ryder Cup heroics. Searching for an extra edge this season, he remade his bag, changing out the shafts in his irons, which allows him to hit the ball higher and thus attack more pins. He dropped a hybrid and added a gap wedge, part of a new emphasis on wedge play. He routinely spends an hour hitting wedges to precise distances. "I want to ingrain the different feel of 112 yards and 114 and 117," he says. "The only way to do that is to put in the work. There are no shortcuts.