WHEN Ian Poulter walks into a scorer’s hut and sees pencils left scattered everywhere on the table, it drives him mad. “I can’t stand it, so I put them all together and straighten them all up. I just can’t help it,” he said.
It’s down to the Englishman having OCD, the anxiety disorder. It rules his life back home in Florida, where a missing HP Sauce bottle recently led to him “throwing the toys out of the pram”. It makes packing suitcases for trips like a military exercise.
“It’s brutal,” admitted Poulter during this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. “All my outfits will be hung Monday through Sunday. Trouser, shirt, trouser, shirt. My case is packed in a way where my outfits are laid out when I pack. It all goes in in day order, so when I pull it out I can just hang it and it’s all in order.
“I pack for the tournaments I’m going to play – that’s not to say I exactly know what it is going to be in a day order but I have 13 outfits in my case ready. I might chop and change because of the weather, but it is just a case of being neat and tidy. I don’t like not knowing where anything is.”
Probably just as well in terms of household harmony, he is not alone in that respect in the Poulter family. “My missus is neat and tidy anyway, which is brilliant – if I was very OCD and she wasn’t I’d be getting on her nerves,” he said. “The nanny has OCD as well, which is brilliant. My son Joshua is so OCD it’s amazing. He’s two and he’ll walk straight to the bin after he’s eaten a lollipop with his stick and put it in the bin.
“Everything has to have its position. I’m always straightening the clubs in the golf bag. On the tee, if we’ve 40 seconds to wait, I’m always fiddling with them. It literally has to be 4 iron, 5 iron, 6, 7, 8 gap wedge, lob wedge in order. Then Terry (his caddie Terry Mundy) picks them up and walks off and they all jumble up everywhere.”
“I’ve been OCD since day one. I was always tidying the golf shop,” he continued, referring to his spell as a PGA professional at Woburn. “My pantry at home is ridiculous. Open the door and you would laugh – everything is in order. I couldn’t find the HP sauce the other morning for this lovely sausage sandwich I’d made myself and the toys were out of the pram. Someone had just stuffed it back in the fridge. It was doing my head in so I had to pull everything out, put it all on the floor and then put it all back in so the dairy stuff was on one shelf, the salad on the next and so on.”
Does he need psychological help? “It is not a problem to me – I think it is a good thing,” he replied. “I don’t see it as a bad trait to have, to be honest.”
While all those 13 outfits he mentioned are sure to be colourful, it is unlikely that any of them will create the same impact as the Union Jack trousers he wore at Royal Troon in 2004.
“I can’t believe it’s ten years ago,” he admitted, insisting the fuss surrounding those red, white and blue slacks had been blown out of proportion.
“I don’t think there were complaints – that was a load of nonsense. Everyone said the phone lines lit up but I don’t think it was true. You can’t plan something like that and say it is going to hit every front page and back page of every newspaper. And I didn’t do it to try and get as much paper space. It was done because I thought it would be something different. I thought it would be pretty cool till I tried them on and thought: ‘Oh dear’.
“I got out the car and there were two cameras, got to the clubhouse and there were 50 cameras, got to the range and there were 100. I realised then, ‘Oh dear, that might have been a bit risky’.”
• The Ballantine’s Golf Club is open for registrations now. Join Club Captain Ian Poulter at www.ballantinesgolfclub.com