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Will Ferrell's Fist Pumps of Fury

Will Ferrell, August 2007
Robert Beck
The club Ferrell has the most trouble with? "All of them," he says.
"Sweet mother's milk!" he yells. "Right from the teat!"

"Nice swing for a homeless man!" says the aptly nicknamed Marcel "Beer Gut" Ford, 41.

Adds Pollard, "Man, I'd give my left leg to hit one like that."

"Fill it up! Fill it up again! Once it hits your lips, it's so good!" — Frank the Tank, after doing a beer bong, in Old School

John William Ferrell is funny in person, of course, ("Shouldn't I have a manservant do this for me?" he says after raking his own bunker), but he's no Frank the Tank. He's polite, makes eye contact, punctuates good shots with fist bumps, and dutifully sprinkles divot mix into fairway scars. When not in character, he's a little shy, an unwild and uncrazy guy. Fun for him is a quiet day in his Hollywood home with Viveca, his wife of seven years, and their two sons.

Maybe he'll feed a few old phone bills into his paper shredder. (He likes shredding.) A "20-something" handicap, he plays just a few rounds a year and never by himself. He only tees it up with his old college buddies. Around them, he's not a movie star. He's not a guy whose films have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. He's just a dude.

"It's no fun without the guys," he says. "I don't play as much as I'd like, but I enjoy it. And you know the shot that gives me the most trouble? The perfect lie from the fairway, because I'm so rarely there. You know, nice drive, good iron. And you think, 'Wow, I could really make a score.' Then you invariably drive your club two feet under the earth and miss the ball completely. A par or birdie turns into a 7 or 8. Or 15. Maybe that's why the greatest shot I ever hit was back in high school. We'd sneak on, wait for a gap, and go. One day, I hit my ball out of grove of trees through a tiny three-foot opening, landed it on the green — and hit a woman in the back of the calf. (Laughs) If I'd had a good lie, I wouldn't have come close."

With a perfect lie, he shanks his persimmon approach on the par-5 third and nearly turns a photographer into a soprano. "Sorry! I thought you'd want a close-up, in case you didn't have your telephoto!" He drops, swings again and finds a trap, leaving himself a 50-yard downhill bunker shot to a front pin. Will, you know this is the hardest shot in golf, right?

"Yeah. And I love it." He seems to grow larger when he becomes Will the cocky wannabe pro. "I relish the opportunity." Just one problem. "How do I hit this?"

Treat it like a three-quarter-swing wedge from the fairway: Hit ball first, and accelerate through. "OK, here goes." He does as directed and knocks his Titleist to the front edge. "Hey, it worked." Minutes later, he's asked about the best tip he ever got. A slice fix, perhaps? Maybe a putting drill?

"Actually," he says slurping his Newcastle, "that bunker tip was the best tip I've ever gotten. Thanks, Golf Magazine!"

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops — and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel." — Buddy, on his journey to New York City, in Elf

After a par on the 295-yard sixth for his first skin of the day ("I'm gonna buy a new sound system!"), Ferrell pounds a fade on the 540-yard seventh, to a chorus of "Grizzly Adams!" and "Hot Pants!" (He's wearing green shorts and matching socks.) Several loose shots follow, though, and he stands on the green measuring a 20-footer.

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