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Original Issue

A Sporting Role

If you think celebrity golf looks easy, try teeing off in front
of hundreds of people--while you're already lying two.

I was playing in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic earlier this year
and was nervous. Sure, I've been onstage and made three dozen
movies, but I'd never done anything this large in golf. Calling
on my stage training, I took a deep breath, blanked out the
crowd...and hit my first drive out-of-bounds.

There aren't any reshoots in golf. All I could do was reload and
think, How did I get myself into this?

It started three years ago, when some friends took me to an
executive course in Los Angeles. I hit some balls in the right
direction and, at age 46, fell in love with the game. Since then
I've played at least twice a week. I am now a 12 handicapper
with enough power to win a recent celebrity long-drive contest.
(The prize was a set of Cleveland clubs. I said, "I just hit one
313 yards. What do I want with new clubs?") I now own five sets
of clubs, including the Cobras that appeared in my film 187,
then appeared in my house when the movie was finished. Yes, I
kept them.

Here's another perk: playing with Sidney Poitier. Sidney is very
laid-back, but he's not above a little gamesmanship. If I'm a
shot ahead, he'll say, "Remember who's the Hollywood legend here."

My golf helps me at home and on the job. After I play, no matter
what I shoot, I'm a happier guy, easier to be around. At work
the same calm that helps a golfer focus on one shot at a time
can help an actor on a film set do the same thing.

My calm was tested at the Hope. But I relaxed and knocked the
next one down the middle, hit the green and made the putt. Now
the crowd was cheering, and I was thrilled with a bogey. That
sort of thing makes golf stranger than fiction, even Pulp Fiction.

Samuel L. Jackson will host a celeb pro-am June 3-7 in Bermuda.

COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN Hit man Jackson's good with a blade but kills it off the tee. [Samuel L. Jackson]