Melody Maker

Originally Published: October 12, 1974

Tee with Alice

Author: Chris Charlesworth

Chris Charlesworth has a round - of golf, that is - with Alice Cooper in New York and finds the ghoul of rock is a little concerned about his image...

"You won't believe this," said Alice Cooper emerging from some bushes, "but I think I've just chipped from the rough right into the hole. I can't see the ball anywhere so I must have potted it."

Alice has indeed chipped the ball into the hole. A wide grin of satisfaction spanned his face as he marked his card with a birdie three at the par four hole.

"That's what I call rescuing the stroke," he said, all serious. "I mean… I drove into the rough on the left, approached the green hitting into the rough and then used my nine iron to get out. And it went in.

"Cindy isn't going to hear the end of this in a long time. She'll be so sick about it, she might leave me."

Cindy is Cindy Lang, a well-known New York fashion model and Alice's girlfriend. Golf though is currently the Coop's real true love.

He plays everyday whenever time permits and one reason for the exchanging his New York base for Los Angeles is simply that California is full of golf courses. The climate is better for the sport too.

It was an overcast Saturday when Alice, confidante Ashley Pandell and myself out for Pelham Bay Golf Course in the north Bronx for 18 holes.

Beer

True to form Cooper packed a dozen cans of Budweiser beer into his bag – he never moves without Budweiser, and spends each and every day constantly pulling at a can.

Surprisingly he never becomes intoxicated.

It's a little surprising that the ghoul of rock theatre should become so passionately fanatical about a game that's mainly enjoyed by the older generation.

But the ghoul is a different guy off-stage than he is on: a milder, more ordinary individual would be hard to come by anywhere.

"Am I still on the 'unwanted' list at the customs in England?" he inquired as we squared up at the first tee. I told him I hadn't a clue, so Alice recounted the incident that occurred on his last visit to the United Kingdom in March.

Hour

"I showed my passport to the customs at Heathrow and the next thing I knew I was taken aside and kept for an hour while inquiries were being made.

"It seems that trouble with Leo Abse had caused my name to get among the list of undesirables. In the end they let me in, but that MP caused plenty of trouble. I'm thinking of dedicating my next album to him and his daughters who brought the matter up in the first place.

"I mean... I've never been busted or had any drug convictions. I'm not a revolutionary who preaches communism and yet I'm placed on the undesirable list all the same.

"I even did a commercial here in the States recently telling kids to keep away from drugs.

"I said this line 'If I catch you taking drugs, I'll come around and bite your puppy's head off' which got me into even more trouble.

"People thought it was a sick thing to say, but it was all tongue in cheek with the Alice image. Can't seem to do anything right these days."

Snake

On the golf course Alice is far removed from the snake-caressing transvestite as Gary Player is from Arthur Brown.

With his long black hair tucked inside a golf hat, smart white V-neck pullover and spiked golf shoes, Alice resembles any weekend golfer. None of his fellow golfers had a clue as to his real identity.

An expensive course of lessons from a professional in California has improved Alice's game no end. With a fluent, easy swing, he drives the ball 200 yards with a two wood, and takes the game very seriously.

If he fluffs a shot, he immediately drops a second ball to have another try so as not to lose confidence. That's an old pro's trick, not strictly allowed, but then we weren't playing for high stakes.

League

By around the fourth hole it was apparent that the Coop was in a different league from his two playing companions.

Patiently Alice watched us hack away balls in the rough while he strode confidently towards his ball in ideal positions amid the fairways. Keeping up with him was a major problem.

He now boasts a handicap of about 16, but on this occasion he was shooting far less.

"The great thing about this game is the scenery around you," he said, while sympathizing with Mr. Pandell who had lost couple of balls while attempting to drive over a picturesque stream.

Mr. Pandell did not refer to the stream as picturesque. A string of expletives echoes around the tee, and a rather ancient-looking hired nine-iron looked though its last resting place may well have been that same stream.

By the sixth hole it had begun to rain and by the seventh it was like standing under a shower fully clothed.

"I'm gonna play out all 18 holes no matter what," declared Cooper, wringing out his pullover and donning a waterproof top. "We can't get any wetter so there's no point in stopping now."

It was at this point that I'd intended producing my tape recorder and leveling some meaty questions about the future of Alice's group. It's doubtful, though whether Sony could withstand the wetting and keep up with Cooper as he strode from the fairway to green was far from easy.

Toronto

At present Alice is midway through his first solo album which is being produced in Toronto by Bob Ezrin, who's been responsible for most of the success in the Cooper catalogue.

While the rest of the Cooper entourage are involved in solo efforts of their own, Alice is now using musicians from Lou Reed's band. He's well pleased with the way things are turning out.

The solo album, he revealed, was actually the soundtrack from a film which he'll be making next year, and at the time of the game was two-thirds completed.

Filming, he said, will probably take place in England during January – that's assuming he can get past those customs men.

Concern

It was apparent though that golf is Alice's major concern at present. He's played in celebrity tournaments with some well-known professionals recently, and picked up tips from the likes of Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus. He's also seriously considering investing some of the Cooper fortune into a golf course of his own.

At the end of the round, exhausted and thoroughly soaked, Alice was ecstatic. He completed the course in 82 which was 12 above par for the course and one of his best-ever rounds considering the conditions we'd played under.

Identity

He even signed his autograph for the club professional who'd somehow learned the identity of the mysterious longhaired player.

"I'm off to the Bahamas next week for a few days holiday," he said, wiping down his immaculate set of clubs in the clubhouse. "All that sunshine... and all that golf. Can't wait to get there."