The Long Game
Mixology of the mind
Justin Rose watched, delighted, as an elaborate chain reaction took place on the film set. It began with a bottle of Glenmorangie’s signature spirit, The Original. Then, with inspirational precision, bitters, sugar, an orange twist and ice fell into place step by step, culminating in the golfer’s ideal whisky cocktail – The Original and Very Old Fashioned.
Rose had taken a break from his preparations for The 146th Open to star in Glenmorangie’s intriguing short film The Long Game, which celebrates his creative affinity with the Highland single malt. Transporting the viewer into Rose’s mind, the film explores the art of mixology through the power of his imagination. And, in the meticulous flair of that chain reaction, golf’s Olympic champion glimpsed a perfect reflection of his craft.
An exquisite balance
“There’s a harmony between precision and creativity,” explains Glenmorangie’s golf ambassador, who, like the whisky’s creators, has dedicated himself to the pursuit of perfection. “Much of my time away from the golf course is spent working on being precise. Whether it’s countless hours in the gym or on the practice tee, that time is crucial for success. Establishing that foundation allows me to be a bit more creative when it comes time to shot-making on the golf course.” Keenly anticipating The Open’s return to Royal Birkdale – the course which inspired his career – he adds: “Knowing that the fundamentals have been painstakingly ingrained in my game allows me to treat each shot with the imagination necessary to play with what’s in front of me.”
Of course, Rose takes his sport very seriously, just as Glenmorangie does its whisky – the pioneering single malt has tirelessly striven for excellence since 1843. Yet there is a joy to creativity. And on the set of The Long Game in Miami, just a short plane journey away from his base in the Bahamas, the golfer revelled in the chance to add his own inventive twist to a classic serve. “I truly enjoy tapping into my creative spirit,” says Rose. “The ability to deconstruct and rebuild the elements for a classic Old Fashioned, and apply artistry to it, made the entire process so much fun to take part in.”
Inspired to innovate
Although he may not be thinking of exchanging his golf clubs for a cocktail shaker any time soon, the 36-year-old is intrigued by the parallels he sees between the mixologist’s craft and his own. “There’s artistry involved in both,” he explains. “There’s no one way to make the perfect cocktail – each mixologist applies their own spin to a cocktail, much like each player approaches golf a little bit differently.”
Golf’s Olympic champion has certainly brought his own creative spirit to golf since he first came to prominence at Royal Birkdale, back in 1998. There, as a young amateur, Rose holed out in spectacular style to finish fourth in the Championship, with a daring pitch over bunkers (“outrageous”, as he remembers it), which has taken its place in golfing history. Rose turned professional the very next day. He recalls: “I came down 18 on Sunday really just appreciating the walk and having a great week. That gratitude really gave me the courage to hit one of the great shots of my life.”
The quest for excellence
Almost 20 years later, Rose is a byword for creativity on the course. In 2013, his brilliance earned him the U.S. Open title. In 2016, on a path to victory at the Olympics, Rose made history with an extraordinary hole in one in the opening round. Then, he produced one of the best pitch shots of his life on the final hole of the contest, to set up the gold medal-winning putt.
These triumphs would be enough for many. But Rose shares with Glenmorangie the vision of ever greater achievements. And this year, as Glenmorangie celebrates golf’s oldest and most international championship with its campaign “Glenmorangie: Enjoy the Creative Spirit of The Open”, Rose has the title in his sights. “There’s no question The Open holds a special meaning for me. The 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale really became the springboard for my career, and announced my game on the global stage.” He adds with feeling: “It would mean a great deal to become Champion Golfer of the Year.”
Throughout its history, The Open has inspired some of the most inventive shots in the golf. For a player of Rose’s vision, at a course which holds such significance for him, the player’s creativity will surely shine.