Golf News


Former Formula One champion Damon Hill recalls his favorite vacation spots and favorite golf courses. Interview with Matt Nicholson

I first picked up a golf club there… I was about 10 or 11 years old. Golf has always been a big part of our family's life. I have a picture of my grandfather playing in the 1920s when he was captain of Mill Hill Golf Club in London.

My father [double F1 World Champion, Graham] he took up golf after breaking his legs in an accident and needed to do something to keep himself busy.

He couldn't run, so he took up golf. I first followed him to the tee and we watched golf together, that's how I got in.

I just started swinging and everyone used to say, 'Oh, you have a good swing', which was the worst thing they could say because I thought I had cracked it. So, after that I didn't bother to have proper studies – and that was a big mistake.

Graham Hill (1929 – 1975) with Damon at Silverstone in 1967 Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

My favorite golf course abroad is… Royal Melbourne. There are many great courses around the world, but whenever I work at FI in Australia we always try to get a game at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. It is a sand belt course and has a very compact feel.

I am also a big fan of Yas Links in Abu Dhabi. Surprise, surprise, it's also near the F1 track, so I'm usually able to go out there and get a quick lap in the morning before we start filming, which is a great time to play as it's nice and cool.

The 13th hole at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi

My favorite course in the UK… Hankley Common in Surrey. I'm a member there, so I'm somewhat biased, but it's a lovely course and stays in good nick all year round, which is very important given our wet winters.

I'm also a big fan of the Downs Course at Goodwood. The views are spectacular, the course has a wide variety of holes, and you are always well taken care of in the clubhouse.

My ideal football holiday would include… the same group of guys I've played golf with for the past 20-30 years. They know who they are!

Royal Melbourne

My most recent holiday was…. Mauritius. It was technically part of a golf trip to play in the Legends Tour's Celebrity Series Grand Final, but I took my wife Georgie, so I'll consider it a vacation! We stayed at the Constance Belle Mare Plage Resort, which was fantastic.

My most memorable round… It may sound strange, but I have fond memories of playing Hankley Common by myself a few years ago.

I went about 21/2 hours and shot 75. I only intended to play nine holes, but I just got into the zone and went on to play the full 18 holes.

Having lived most of my life at over 100 miles per hour, I found golf to be slow, so the fact that I could move around without waiting for other people really helped my game.

Goodwood Downs 7th hole

The highlight of my golf career so far has been… starring Seve Ballesteros in Oxfordshire. I was completely terrified. He was an absolute god in golf terms and he was an absolute gentleman, too. It's always nice when your heroes are good people.

The best hotel I have ever stayed in… the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo. I stayed there the night I won the 1996 World Championship, so I was memorable for that alone, but I lived in a big house with a grand piano and a living room, so it was all very crazy.

It was on one of the top floors, so it had an amazing view towards Tokyo. This is where they later filmed the scenes Lost in Translation.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo

My most memorable meal…. he was at a sushi restaurant at the same Grand Hyatt in Tokyo. It was a sushi feast, and after the most amazing sushi and sashimi course. Fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail.

Now I'm a vegetarian, but back then I wasn't, and it was an amazing meal. I just remember waking up the next morning feeling super energetic probably because of all the protein I had eaten!

Hankley Common is Damon Hill's home club

My favorite city in the world is… London. It's my hometown and there's always something to see and do and I just love walking the streets and taking it all in. Moving on, I like Barcelona, ​​and Melbourne is a great city too.

My top travel tip is… getting lost. Get out there and explore. Don't over schedule and miss the opportunity to meet something new. Whenever I'm booked into a hotel on my travels I have to go out of my room and see what's outside.

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