DJ Spoony: A day on the fairways, a night on the tiles - Americas - Travel - The Independent

DJ Spoony: A day on the fairways, a night on the tiles

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As the US Open tees off this week, DJ Spoony explains how his love of golf has given him a passion for travelling.

I started playing golf in 2001, and though it has only been a few years, the game has enhanced my life in ways I would never have imagined. It's given me the chance to travel to places I wouldn't have visited and meet some really inspirational people. I'm generally a sports addict and when I was young I used to watch golf on TV, but it was only when Tiger Woods appeared that I thought, wow, I've got to try a bit of this.

I still love watching sports but now I get to see things live. I'm going to the Ryder Cup in Louisville, Kentucky, this year, which I'm really excited about. I've travelled a fair bit to see golf in South Africa. They love their golf down there and the country has produced some of the world's highest-ranking golfers: Ernie Eels, Gary Player, Bobby Locke.

The pedigree runs deep and the courses are some of the best and most beautiful in the world. Pearl Valley is one of the newer ones near Cape Town, which had only just opened when I first played there but this year it hosted the national championships. There are lots of bunkers if you hit a wayward shot – I seem to remember I spent a lot of time in them.

There are also very good caddies in South Africa and the country offers brilliant value for money, even considering the cost of the flight. Because of South Africa's climate, the courses tend to be in great condition, which really inspires a better game. As a destination, it's nice to see black people empowered in a way they weren't 30 years ago.

When I visited Cape Town, I stayed at Camps Bay. I rented an apartment overlooking the sea and spent a lot of time on Ocean Front, the main dining strip, eating the freshest seafood I've ever tasted – it's caught right there in the bay. South Africa is home to some stunning beautiful people; it's a great setting for people-watching and golf, two of my favourite sports.

I've also played Stellenbosch, right in the heart of Cape Town's wine region. I'm a non-drinker so I didn't visit the vineyards but the scenery from the course – vast, towering mountains – was enough to make you heady. We also went to Cape Point where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean. That's one of the world's truly spectacular places.

South Africa is probably one of the most exotic places I've played golf. I grew up in Hackney in east London and went to school in Islington. I had my first go at the game at the old King's Cross driving range, with a friend from school. There's always been a bit of a stigma about coming from Hackney, but a few of us have done quite well for ourselves and several have taken up golf. The term "golf punk" refers to this new breed of golfer: anyone who's not the archetypal player you'd expect to see on a golf course – from taxi drivers to footballers, DJs to musicians.

Characters in the sport such as Ian Poulter have really brought about this change. He's flamboyant; he's a fantastic golfer and young people want to be like him. But Tiger Woods has been the single greatest attraction. He has eradicated so many different stereotypes and throws up so many contradictions in himself. Tiger may be the greatest golf punk because he is everything that golf wasn't. Now cool sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas and Taylor Made are getting in on the game. However, there's a lot to be said for golf's traditions. The rules and regulations, what you have to wear, are very much part of the game. Living within those parameters to a certain extent and making it individual are what I find fun.

But I suppose the thing I love most about the game is the challenge. Every shot is a challenge in golf. Just because you've hit a good shot it doesn't mean the next one will be the same. It's a constant battle. If you like personal challenges, then golf is the game for you. And it's very meditative. You're outside on the grass with the birds, walking, at one with nature. As challenging as it is, there's always room for banter in the heat of battle, and four hours on the course gives you a great way to catch up with friends.

As a DJ, I mainly fly in and out of places on a red-eye and don't see much more than the airport and a club, but I still know if it's somewhere I want to return to. That was instantly the case with Miami. South Beach has become probably my favourite place in the world. I went originally for the Winter Music Conference and there was no question that I wasn't coming back. Now I go every year for my two-week annual holiday. It just has the best combination of things I love: city life but on the beach and the food is excellent. And, of course, there's the golf. I bought my first set of clubs in Miami – taking advantage of the weak dollar against the pound. There are so many superb courses in Florida, and many of them public access, which is rare.

Thanks to golf I'm about to put down roots in Miami and buy a place there. There is an argument that if you buy a holiday home you miss out on visiting other places, but as I travel so much for work, I feel justified. The up-and-coming area to buy is south of 5th Street. That's where I stayed the last two times. It's really residential and tree-lined but it's only a few blocks from the action – places such as Big Pinks diner, the Opium Garden and Joe's Stone Crab.

I feel right at home in Miami, maybe because it's not such a straight-up American destination as some. It's very diverse with people from Cuba, Dominica, Haiti, Colombia and Mexico. So much so that I'm learning Spanish. I'm always at Puerto Sagua, a Cuban restaurant on Collins Avenue, which does a great grilled chicken, rice, black beans and maduros (fried plantain). Great food, great people, good weather and with all the golf, plus training at South Florida Boxing – run by the same people who trained Muhammad Ali – and my sessions at a bikram yoga centre on South Beach. After two weeks in Miami, I feel pretty close to perfect.

I also love playing in Scotland. If I wasn't heading for the sunshine then there's only one place I'd go and it's there. Even in the winter. You get your woolly hat and thermals on and it's a whole different thing.

I mainly play two courses in Scotland: Kingsbarns and St Andrews. Kingsbarns, where the Links is played, has to be one of the most spectacular courses in the world. Some of the holes you play are right over the shoreline. To be invited to that championship is "the" one, the golfing equivalent of a personal invite over to Buckingham Palace to have tea with the Queen.

If you've got pots of money you can get helicopter transfers and jump around Scotland's premier courses in minutes. But if you're like me, you'll be driving yourself across the Forth Bridge, which is actually no hardship. I love this part of the world, its history and elegance. The architecture in St Andrews is incredible and the ruins are well worth a stop-off.

I have my own annual tournament now: the 125-player, 350-guest, gala dinner Spoony Classic Golf Day. We've raised quite a bit of money for Golf Roots, a Golf Foundation programme which gets young people from inner cities to play golf. As one of those inner-city kids, I know that you don't have easy access to things like that. The Golf Foundation got 700,000 children involved with golf last year alone. It's all about giving people opportunities they wouldn't have had. Without golf I certainly wouldn't have travelled to see half as much of the world.

Reader Offer

Your Golf Travel.com is offering readers of 'The Independent on Sunday' who book a holiday through its website a £25 voucher and a free YGT golf travel bag for the lead booker on overseas holidays. Also, one golfer will go free when booking for groups of 12 or more in the UK and 16 or more overseas. Just quote "Independent on Sunday" when you book. Your Golf Travel.com is a one-stop shop intended to make golfing holidays more accessible and affordable to more golfers. Check out the website at yourgolftravel.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week