A few weeks ago, we were invited to join Audemars Piguet in a trip to Montreux where we were able to talk to golf players Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and Matt Wallace. They’ve been ambassadors with Audemars Piguet relatively recently, so we thought it would be nice to ask them some questions regarding watches and golf (we covered the topic on wearing watches while playing golf here).
Robert-Jan: Just recently, but 25 years too late, I started playing golf myself. And I’ve noticed it is very addictive and I find myself reading golf magazines, while only understanding half of its contents sometimes, but I don’t care. Can you imagine that people find watches just as addictive?
Andrew Johnston: Definitely, without a doubt. I always liked my watches and when the things I’ve learned since working with AP has been incredible. The mechanisms, how it is being made, it is just mind-blowing. It makes you realize how much effort goes into them and why these watches come at a certain price.
RJ: Are you a watch guy?
AJ: I am a lot more of watch guy now than I was, definitely. I started with Audemars Piguet a little over two years ago, but I was already interested before. But ever since, I’ve started reading about it more and especially when you come here (in Switzerland), and see it up close it is another level of understanding what goes through to make these watches.
RJ: You partnered with a brand that has been one of the pioneers when it comes to using different or out-of-the-ordinary materials for their watches. Being heavily dependent on materials and their quality and properties when it comes to playing golf, is this a feature about watches that attracts you too?
AJ: I am using Titleist clubs and the research that goes into producing them is phenomenal. It is similar when it comes to watches, with the difference that with watches they first go way in time to research new possibilities and use of certain materials. The time it takes to develop watches is just fascinating to me.
RJ: Do you have input at Titleist when it comes to the development of new clubs?
AJ: Yeah, a couple of years ago I wanted a 2 iron made for me. A bladed 2 iron, because I wanted to hit them low so I spoke to them about it and they turned up at the British Open with one. So I was able to use it that week which was really cool. It was a one-off, made for me and that kind of personalization is great.
RJ: Can you imagine that, at some point, Audemars Piguet will do the same for you?
AJ: Definitely. That’s the best thing with Audemars Piguet being family, they are very open and when I have an idea in my head I can just check it across and see what Francois says. He might go ‘this is really a good idea’ and see what we can do. That’s really nice about Audemars Piguet, that family feel.
RJ: I only see few pros on television and golf tournaments wearing a watch during the game, is that because most of them find it uncomfortable, is it ’not done’ (like gala event or wedding), or is it because of something else?
AJ: Many players don’t like anything on their wrist during golf. It is a matter of comfort. You can get a light-weight watch if you want to, but it is just about having nothing on the wrist when playing.
Robert-Jan: Regardless of being from a family where sports were played on a high-level, being where you are today must have cost you blood, sweat and tears. Aside from the victories, such as the recent BMW International Open and ‘Made in Denmark’, what do you enjoy most about golf beside the winning?
Matt Wallace: Besides the winning. I think you have to love the competitiveness about it. If you don’t love to compete against the best in the world then you are never going to win. I love the culture of the travel. I now enjoy travelling, as I get to go to business class sometimes haha. The other perks are nice, the other stuff that comes with golf besides competing and winning, I love this part.
RJ: Can you still play golf with friends who just started playing, or are not very good at it? Do you still enjoy it?
MW: My friends are seriously terrible, but I enjoy to play with everybody. It is always a good laugh anyway so I go out there and play with whoever. This is the thing with golf, you can play with anyone and have a nice chat. Also, a lot of business talk is done on the golf course. So just get out there and play, and enjoy. We can go and play now.
RJ: Audemars Piguet has 22 ambassadors when it comes to golf, so it must be important for both. Can you define the connection between golf and high-end watches?
MW: I am probably one of the newest members of Audemars Piguet because I signed this year. And even before that, I knew that they are the top. And that’s what I wanted, to be an Audemars Piguet ambassador, I wanted to have the watch and to be associated with all the other ambassadors, all the other players. Because they are the best in the world. When you are associated with the best in the world, your levels rise. I love that and I love to be surrounded by the greatest and learn from other players. The watches speak for themselves, they are the nicest out there, and as a watch fan myself, I think they are the best. I am wearing the Royal Oak Chronograph and I am hoping to get a few more.
RJ: You work with PING and probably demand the best from them. Are you watch geek enough to have the same standards when it comes to watches?
MW: Yeah, but I am still a long way. When I win another major I will talk to Francois about the next watch. I am going into the right directions with the wins, so I will keep doing what I am doing now and hopefully in a few years I can sit down with Francois and demand something special haha.
RJ: What are you looking for then in a watch?
MW: I would say not too technical for me in terms of complications. I am more focused on materials and aesthetic appeal. The best thing about wearing this (Audemars Piguet Royal Oak) is that people who know their watches come over to you and say ‘Nice watch’. They recognize the bracelet, the finish and you just stand there without showing it off and they will come up to you and chat about it because they know exactly what it is. I’ve had that a few times. I never wear the watch when I am playing, but I have a friend Darren Clarke (also AP ambassador) and I remember that he wore his AP for the first time when he won an open. I thought that was pretty cool, but as said I don’t wear a watch while playing and I am probably not going to change that.
RJ: What is your favorite golf movie? You can also include Caddyshack.
AJ: Haha, my favorite movie about golf has to be Happy Gilmore. Definitely my favorite. At the US PGA in 2016, up in New Jersey, at the Baltusrol, I’d never seen crowds before shouting at me and making fun and stuff. The kid carrying a scoreboard said to me at one hole, “this is the closest thing to Happy Gilmore I’ve ever seen” hahaha.
MW: Caddyshack is definitely up there. Happy Gilmore is great for sure. But Caddyshack is the old school classic with Chevy Chase and Bill Murrau (imitates him). I haven’t watched it in a while but need to do that again.
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Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more