Golf: No keeping Telfer away from Capital scene

PAUL TELFER reckons he's always been happier on a golf course than he ever was playing football for clubs like Celtic, Southampton, Luton and Coventry.

Edinburgh-born Telfer returned to his golfing roots at the weekend to play in the DM Hall Scottish Mid Amateur Championship at Royal Burgess.

And, though he failed for the third year running to make the top 16 for the knock-out phase of an event for over-25s, it certainly seems as though he'll keep coming back for more.

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"I love playing competitive golf and I think that is the only way you can get better," said Telfer, who won a senior cap against France at Hampden in 2000.

"It's nice to come to a good venue – this one is obviously in my home town – and it also clashes with my mother's birthday."

Telfer, the nephew of former Hearts and Scotland star Eamonn Bannon, played his golf as a junior at Duddingston but is now a member at Stoneham in Hampshire, where he lives.

"I've got friends and family who are still members at Duddingston as well as Kilspindie," he added, "and I come up a fair bit to play golf in and around Edinburgh with several uncles and brothers."

Telfer, who plays off two, admits that Gordon Strachan, a manager he played under at Celtic, Coventry and Southampton, had his work cut out trying to keep him off the golf course.

"He (Strachan) used to have to curtail my golf because I'd rather have played golf than football," admitted the 37-year-old, who made 14 appearances for Leeds last season but is now contemplating retiring from the game.

"Managers these days don't like players being on the golf course because they think it is detrimental to their fitness. Three-and-a-half hours on a golf course tires them out.

"I'd rather be on a golf course than sitting in a pub or the bookies.

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"A lot of guys love sitting at home playing on their computers or whatever – I'd rather be out in the fresh air."

Former West Ham player Julian Dicks tried his luck as a pro golfer after hanging up his boots but Telfer, pictured below, said: "The standard between a good amateur to even a pro on the Challenge Tour is massive. Richard Bland, who has qualified for this week's US Open, is a member of my club, and I've played with him a few times – the difference is like night and day."

Asked who he reckoned are the best golfers amongst the footballing fraternity, Telfer continued: "Callum Davidson (the former Scotland defender who started his career at St Johnstone and is now at Preston) is a good player while Matt le Tissier, another Stoneham member, is off five or six, I think. The worst thing about football players is that very few are actually members of golf clubs yet all seem to play off ten – that seems to be the magic number – and hit it very well."

Strachan himself is partial to a game and Telfer added: "He's another bandit off nine or ten!"

According to one of his playing partners at the weekend, Telfer, who shot rounds of 75 and 72 – he had four 3s on the trot in the latter but paid the price for a triple-bogey 7 at the fourth – is just as useful with a golf club in his hands as he was with a ball at his feet.

"He's a great ball striker and you can also tell he's been a professional athlete," said Doug Ross, a Royal Burgess member. "All that let him down was that he didn't know the course that well."