He played rugby for the All Blacks 66 times, scored 26 tries during his international career and is one of the most-capped outside backs in All Blacks history. He started playing golf at the age of 7 and since retiring from Rugby in 2019 has managed to get his handicap down to 5.1 so we thought it was time to have a Quick Round with Israel Dagg.
How old were you when you started playing golf and who got you started?
I was about seven years old and I picked up my Dad’s golf club and would whack a few golf balls around the backyard. When I was at high school, I would go out with my mates and we would play around Golflands in Hastings. We would play a couple of times a month and it was always lots of fun!
Where did you start playing golf?
I started playing seriously when I was playing with The Highlanders in 2009 and 2010. I enjoyed playing at Balmacewan (Otago Golf Club) with my teammates and I got my first official handicap of 16 there.
What is the lowest handicap you have ever played off?
My lowest handicap is what I’m currently playing off- that’s 5.1.
What was your lowest round score and where were you playing?
I shot 71 as my lowest round score at the Miramar Golf Club.
How many ‘hole-in-one’s’ have you had?
I hate this question. ZERO. I have been really close a few times. I think it will be a great celebration when I make my first one!
How far do you hit your 7-iron?
I usually hit it around 150m to 155m.
What is your biggest fear on the golf course?
That has to be not getting past the ladies’ tee markers! I hate topping a tee shot and not getting past the ladies’ tee markers! The grief I get from my mates is…. But I know I give my mates a lot of grief if they don’t get it past the ladies’ tees as well!
What is your biggest frustration (pet peeve) when playing golf?
I love playing quickly. So, slow play drives me nuts. Watching people stop and mark short putts, line-up their ball and then tap it in. We aren’t playing for a major championship here so let’s keep the game moving so everyone has fun!
What do you most love about playing golf?
Golf is everything. One week, you are on fire and you can master the game! Everything just falls into place and then the next week, you can’t hit any shot and you are down in the dumps! The game is competitive and it is mentally tough and you know there is always room for improvement. It is a challenge!
What is your most memorable moment in golf?
I was fortunate to be invited to play as an Amateur Ambassador at this year’s NZ Open. Playing with Australian professional, Cory Crawford was great and to get through to playing on the Saturday was great. We played well and it was really gutting to miss out on playing on the Sunday by one shot.
What is your favourite golf course?
Other than my home club of Pegasus, it would have to be New Zealand’s #1 golf course Tara Iti; with Cape Kidnappers a close second. Tara Iti is such a special place to play golf. For me it is the closest to “golf Nirvana”!
Who is the most famous person or best golfer you have played with?
Playing golf in Scotland on an All Blacks trip, I was fortunate to tee it up with Sandy Lyle (who won the British Open in 1985 and The Masters in 1988) with TJ Perenara, Ritchie McCaw and Beauden Barrett. Playing with such a classy golfer in his home country was really special and I loved every moment of that round.
If you could pick any three people, alive or dead, to play in a four-ball with, who would they be? And do you have any particular reason for your choices?
I would definitely pick Tiger Wood; to see the greatest up close would be magic. Then I’d choose Kobie Bryant, I loved the way he played basketball, so to talk to him about it would be special. And Rory McIlroy would be my third pick. To see his power and how he rips the golf ball; plus I hear he is a huge rugby fan so to talk rugby and golf, what could be better!
Who would you get the most satisfaction out of beating on the golf course and why?
Hey, that’s easy, it would be TJ Perenara. He is the most competitive person I have ever come across. Winning or losing, he is still giving it his all, both physically and verbally! One-on-one, beating TJ is awesome!
What is your favourite golf destination?
Earlier this year, I attended the PGA Tour Waste Management Tournament at TPC Scottsdale. The course is incredible and it is amazing to see the place up close, with the grandstands and all the people.
Which golf tournament you would most like to attend?
Definitely, the Masters at Augusta. That is a bucket list item for me. Wow, how cool does that place look; it would be incredible to actually be there.
What is your favourite golf movie?
That has to be Happy Gilmore; Shooter McGavin, what a legend!
What is your favourite thing to do away from the golf course and rugby?
I love boating and fishing, so going jet boating up the Waimakariri and salmon fishing are my favourite “get away” things to do.