American stand-up comedian Nate Bargatze shares his thoughts on Pebble Beach nerves, becoming mates with Jason Day and why golf is the funniest sport of all time.
When Nate Bargatze goes on tour, the lines between whether he’s there to perform or to play golf are becoming increasingly blurred.
This year alone he has performed to almost 10,000 people at the iconic Red Rocks near Denver and in front of a record crowd of 19,365 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. He also made his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am debut in February and played in the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe in July.
On his recent tour of Australia, Bargatze and opener Joe Zimmerman made time for rounds at Royal Melbourne and Royal Queensland, and told Australian Golf Digest just how seriously this funny man takes his golf.
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How are the emotions different walking out to perform at Red Rocks or onto the first tee at Pebble Beach?
You’re nervous at Pebble Beach because it’s something that you’re just not used to. You want to get off the tee. Red Rocks, when you walk out it’s pretty overwhelming because it’s 10,000 people at a place where everyone on earth has played. You’re nervous but once you get in your zone you’re all right.
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If we played the Stand-Up Masters, who is in the last group with you on Sunday and who wins?
Ray Romano plays, but I will take Ray Romano. Larry The Cable Guy plays. We just played at Lake Tahoe and I beat both of them. There are some comics you might not have heard of – a guy by the name of Cort McCown – he actually caddied on tour. He would beat me. Jay Larson, he could probably beat me, but I’d feel pretty good with Ray.
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Funniest golf movie of all time?
I’d say “Caddyshack”, but my favourite golf movie is “Tin Cup”. I’m a giant “Tin Cup” fan and I’ve watched it multiple times. I’ve always loved “Tin Cup”.
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Is golf a sport rich in funny?
I think it’s the funniest. All the stuff I follow on Instagram is golf-related because it is so specific. You see stuff that can’t happen. You see a video of someone swinging a driver and the ball hits them in the eye. It’s something that can’t happen. It doesn’t make sense. You’re like, How can a ball go straight up? but it does. To me it’s the funniest thing on earth.
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Could you tie in a Dunhill Links appearance at St Andrews with a European stand-up tour?
I will now. I didn’t know they did that. They really do that? I’m going to call my agent. It’s probably 1 in the morning there now but I’m going to call him and say that we need to get that on the books somehow.
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You could pair up with your great mate, Jason Day. How did that friendship come about?
I performed at his Brighter Days Foundation benefit a few years ago and we just really hit it off. I’ve got to play golf with him quite a few times and go to his house with the green in his backyard. Jason’s a great dude. He kind of feels like me, just a regular dude. He told me he was from Rockhampton, and he said to me, “You’re not going to go to Rockhampton.” Jason’s a wonderful person and it’s exciting to see him get back to where he’s at right now. He was No.1 in the world. It’s a freak of nature how good this guy is, so it’s nice for him to be able to get his back worked right and get a new swing. He’s playing great.
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You squeezed in a couple of games of golf during your Australian tour. Thoughts on Royal Melbourne and Royal Queensland?
I’m a giant fan of both. They’re open; I like the way they look. Especially here at Royal Queensland. There’re trees but it’s not an overwhelming amount of trees. It’s open and you can see everybody playing and it’s beautiful, right on the river. They’re ranked very high and they’ve lived up to them.