Interview with José María Gutiérrez Hernández, “Guti”

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Guti, a Madrid player since his time in the club’s junior ranks, and 15 years a member of the team up to 2010, in addition to playing for the national team, has also – for several years now – been a keen golfer. Currently, he combines his job as a coach, working as assistant coach for Real Madrid in the “Alevin A” novices category, with a passion for the sport of the club and small ball.

In this special edition of Golf Circus we interview the great footballer… and great golfer as well?
Well, like any amateur, some good days, others bad. At least I enjoy playing, and some days I have a good score and other days I struggle.

What encouraged you to take up golf?
Actually, quite a while ago. There was a season at Madrid when many of my colleagues on the team played golf; they prompted me to take it up, I began playing, and I haven’t stopped since.

Did any one player in particular encourage you, saying, “Try it – you’ll like it”?
Yes, César, who was our goalkeeper at the time, suggested it to me. He encouraged me to play and I liked it a lot. At the start it was very tough but, in general, I enjoyed playing. There are some incredible places to play golf, and I have a great time.

Before starting to play golf, what image did you have of the sport?
That it was a sport for old people who couldn’t play any other sport that was more aggressive on the body, or more active. Later, I realised that this wasn’t the case: on the contrary, the younger you begin, much better.

guti-miguel-angel-jimenezFootball has given you a lot of satisfaction. Is there any special moment you remember playing golf?
Yes, a few tournaments I’ve won at an amateur level. Especially the first, which was fantastic – you always want to play and win.

Where was that?
At the Layos course in Toledo. I had a very high handicap and I recall carding 43 points or something like that.

What idea do you have of golf today, as a player, and why would you recommend it to others?
First, I would recommend it because you can play it with friends. It’s also an individual sport, in which you play against the course, and it’s also fun and unique, because most sportspeople have to compete with someone or against someone. In golf no. Then there are all the courses where you can play, the landscapes you get to view and the stunning nature you see around you.

Any course that you have particularly liked?
Here in Madrid, La Herrería, in El Escorial. It’s an incredible course: just standing on the first tee and seeing the monastery in front of you is spectacular. And another course I like is Valderrama, in Cádiz province. It was a unique experience. After watching all the tournaments on TV, to be there and to be able to play, that’s priceless.

Do you see yourself playing golf as a professional in the future, as (Michael) Jordan did?
No – each to their own. Jordan tried to and in the end it didn’t work out well. You have to be born for that. I had the pleasure of being a footballer and now what I want to do is enjoy playing golf – that it doesn’t cause me any problems and I don’t have to put any more time into it than I want to.

So golf for you now is playing with friends and having a good time…
That’s it: pleasure and nothing more.

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