In the golfing world of adulation, massive pay cheques and similarly-proportioned egos, Adam Scott is known as the polite, well-behaved nice guy of the PGA Tour. Meeting him in a Melbourne hotel fully checks that out.
But a note of context. “I have an ego as well,” he says, “but I’ve been lucky my whole career to have been surrounded by very level-headed people. First, I’d have to thank my parents for giving me such great perspective on things. It must start there. But the other people around me, including my wife – who I’ve known for 16 years – they’ve kept me very grounded, and realising it’s important to you what you do but that doesn’t trump everything else.”
Adam will head back to Australia this month to compete in the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast. He will have more than golf on his mind, following the birth of son Byron in August.
From this distance, Adam has a pretty good life. His workplace is some of the best real estate in the world, he has career earnings on the PGA US Tour of $61.3 million, as well as lucrative brand ambassador roles with luxury watchmaker Rolex and Japanese clothing giant UNIQLO, and he is ranked No.25 in the world.
Adam, 37, is married to Swedish architect Marie Kojzar, with whom he also has a two-year-old daughter, Bo. He has homes in the Swiss Alps, the Bahamas and the US, and bases himself at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast when in Australia. “It’s very hard to distinguish somewhere where I really live,” he says.
“I spend as much time in Australia [as I do] in Switzerland or the Bahamas.”
He loves the pristine air of Switzerland. “I can’t tell you how spectacular it is,” he says of his base in the French-speaking Alps. How is his French?
“I have to deal with learning Swedish … learning French will have to come later.”
Adam’s golf journey began as a young boy in Adelaide when his father, a golf club manufacturer, cut down a club for his five-year-old son and took him to the course. “I was a small, skinny kid and I didn’t hit the ball very far,” Adam says, but improvement was rapid. “When I was 13, I was a two handicap and I was beating my dad.”
Nice, I say. “Yeah, but not for him that he got beaten by a 13-year-old.”
It was the start of a spectacular career. In 2013 Adam became the first Australian to win the US Masters; the following year, he was the world’s No.1 golfer. “I’m just trying to make the most out of every opportunity that I’m given,” he says. “Luckily, I was given this talent to play golf and I’m trying my best to make the most of that. I really love what I do.”
Adam talks about the psychological demands of the sport. “There is a huge mental part of the game that requires probably just as much work as the physical part. There’s so much time and, therefore, there’s a lot of opportunity for thought to lead you astray.”
I ask if he can tell whether or not he’s going to play well that day from the moment he wakes up.
“Sometimes,” he says. “For me, sometimes it’s good to be aware of things, other times it’s not …. You become a bit of a hypochondriac: ‘oh my wrist is a bit sore today, I’m not going to play well’.
“Sometimes I feel you need to be the same all the time, fairly routined … You just need to produce the same things all the time and then it’s very easy to analyse and see what went wrong.”
Recently, though, Adam has been forced to change the way he plays. For five years, he adopted a controversial “anchored” putting style using a longer putter (which the golfer leaned on for stability). When officials banned this putting method last year, he had to switch back to a standard putter.
He says he’s disappointed about the way authorities went about the ban. “If they could have proved to me that it’s an advantage or easier than putting another way, then I could stomach that,” he says. “It was something that’s been allowed in the game forever. It’s evolved over 30 years – and all of a sudden they didn’t like the way it looked.”
He says it was only the success he and a couple of others enjoyed with the “broomstick” putting style that brought it into focus. “They felt that this was not the look they wanted going forward.”
Another change for Adam has been adjusting to life as a father. “I think it affects everyone’s profession, it’s a big change to the way you live,” he says. “But it’s only a good thing.”
For an athlete in a sport involving so much travel, parenthood has been a sizeable adjustment.
“The routines you once knew have to change and you have to be very flexible. You have to understand that you’re not going to have the same amount of energy to put into what you do, so you have to be more efficient practising and preparing for that little bit less time you have,” he says.
“But it’s less time in a good way because there’s a positive energy to give from the time you give to your family.”
Sometimes, Adam’s family travels with him to tournaments. “My wife works full-time as an architect. She’s very busy. Fortunately it’s her own firm with a partner, so she can be flexible and they can come with me occasionally.”
Looking back on his already extraordinary career, he credits Greg Norman as an early mentor. “He gave me so much time early on,” Adam says. “I know for sure if there was anything I ever needed now, it’s just a phone call away. It’s quite unbelievable that my idol has become my friend. He was a great role model for so many kids like me in Australia. Everyone after Greg has looked up to him.”
As for the future, Adam will continue his brand ambassador work with Rolex and UNIQLO. He has also developed a strong interest in architecture and flags a possible collaboration with his wife.
“There could be something there for us maybe to work on together,” he says. He’d also like to “have a crack at designing a golf course one day”.
And for the avid surfer and AFL fan (he follows the Adelaide Crows), there is the lure of returning home to Queensland. He spent his formative years there, between the ages of nine and 18, before taking up a sports scholarship at the University of Nevada. He has been travelling almost ever since.
“I’d love to live back in Australia,” he says. “And I’d love to spend time on the Sunshine Coast.”
- Australian PGA Championship \ November 30-December 3
- RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast