STATELINE, Nev. - Pity the fool who talks to Dan Quayle after four double bogeys. The vice president who had trouble spelling "potatoe" certainly knows how to slow-seethe intensity.
Sure, Quayle smiled and chatted amiably for a moment when TravelGolf.com caught up to him after a difficult round at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe (where he would later walk out on a John Mellencamp concert over the singer's Bush-bashing).
But his golf spikes were tapping the whole time, and he gave the shortest interview in the history of this site's celebrity Q&As.
When Quayle bolted, he almost immediately headed for the practice range. Where he hit balls practically 'til sundown. By the end of his session the only other golfers out there were ESPN personalities Dan Patrick and Joe Theismann, and they seemed mostly interested in hearing themselves talk. Quayle, on the other hand, pounded range ball after range ball, his cap pulled low, his face tensed in concentration.
That's what serious golfers do. And Quayle definitely qualifies as a serious golfer.
He started playing at age 8, largely at his volition, if you hear him tell it. It didn't hurt that he lived right next to Paradise Valley Country Club near Phoenix. At DePauw University in Indiana he captained the golf team (and was later named to the school's athletic hall of fame).
The golf continued as Quayle won a seat in Congress at the age of 29, became a senator at 33 and spent four years in the national spotlight as George H.W. Bush's running mate, often as a punchline - about his spelling, about his crusade against TV's Murphy Brown and about his love of golf.
Spend any time with Quayle, though - even a brief time before he blows you off for the range - and it quickly becomes apparent that he's stayed dead focused on the game through the years and the jokes. He believes his beloved golf became fodder for his political opponents as well.
Of course, sometimes being the punchline pays off. The 59-year-old Quayle is now chairman of Cerberus Global Investments, a private investment firm with a $16 billion portfolio and offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, Frankfurt, Osaka, Tokyo and Baarn, the Netherlands.
Quayle could have probably told us more about this, but he had to go work on his game. Not that anyone here is taking it personally; we know what bogeys are like. Here's the ex-veep at his brief best.
Q: How competitive do you get out on the golf course?
A: I'm usually pretty competitive, but my golf game stunk today. I had four double bogeys and I'm not happy.
Q: Is it important in politics to be a good golfer?
A: No. Not at all. It's a handicap, actually, because I played golf all through college and played competitive golf and I'm a reasonable golfer without even picking up a club. And it hurt politically. Because everybody would say I was out golfing all day when I hadn't even played golf. Being a good golfer is a liability in politics.
Q: So you didn't really get to play golf until you were out of office?
A: Oh, yeah. [Smiles.] Well, I played every once in a while in office.
Q: How much on average do you play nowadays?
A: I travel a lot. When I'm home I play on average probably ... three or four times a month.
Q: What are the strengths of your golf game?
A: I've always been a good ball striker. And I just need to work on my short game.
Q: Who's the best golfer you've played with at one of these celebrity golf tournaments?
A: Couldn't say.
Q: Who's your choice for the 2008 presidential race?
A: Ha, ha, ha. A Republican.
Q: Would Hillary Clinton make a good president?
A: A Republican would make the best president. Thank you.
October 30, 2006