Rap Legend Scarface on His Golf Obsession: 'The Idea That Just Because I'm From the Street, I Can't Play -- That's Bullshit'

Greg Noire
Scarface photographed on May 14, 2015 at Hermann Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas.

On the golf course, Scarface of the Geto Boys is Brad Jordan, like on his birth certificate. He may have taken his stage name from the blood-soaked 1983 movie Scarface that starred Al Pacino as a maniacal drug lord, but there’s no hint of gangsta swagger when he sets foot on the links. “I play golf every day if I can, but it’s not fun and games for me,” says the hip-hop pioneer on an overcast afternoon in May at Hermann Park, a public golf course in his hometown of Houston. Jordan won’t play with people who are drinking beer or clowning around. “I’m serious about golf,” he says.

Jordan, 44, who has dropped 100 pounds through dieting and exercise during the last two years, says his passion for the sport is fueled by the challenge to “tame the course. Right now, it’s beating my ass on a regular basis,” he says. He carries a Garmin GPS on his wrist to gauge the exact distance to the hole from the fairway and uses a Golf Buddy app on his phone when he’s on the green.

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All talk on the course is golf-related, which means Jordan is not particularly interested in discussing his memoir, Diary of a Madman: The Geto Boys, Life, Death and the Roots of Southern Rap. Published in April, the book delves into dark periods of Jordan’s life that inspired brutally honest odes to urban anguish like Geto Boys’ No. 1 Hot Rap Song, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” and the group’s other signature tune, “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta,” which Mike Judge used in his 1999 cult film Office Space. (The Geto Boys, who will release a new album, Deeply Rooted, in August, have landed five LPs in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and have sold 4.7 million units since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.)

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Due to heavy rains all week, some holes at Hermann Park are unplayable, so Jordan is forced to make his own links, from hole No. 1 straight to No. 13 and then the rest of the back nine.

Jordan played for the first time seven years ago, at the urging of his 14-year-old daughter, Brene Jordan, who picked up the clubs in the wake of Tiger Woods mania. “I thought golf was the most ridiculous sport ever invented,” he says. “Then my little girl kicked my ass, and I started practicing.” It took him a year and weekly lessons to break 100. Now, he plays to a 10 handicap and shoots in the 80s. He says he never plays alone because he wants witnesses for when he does something great, like on May 5 when he scored his first eagle. “That idea that just because I’m from the street, I can’t play golf, that’s bullshit,” he says when asked if he sees a cultural divide between golf and gangsta rap. “Ain’t nothing soft about the sport. If you want to play football, you have to go to college. To me, that’s soft.

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“The game of golf slows the whole world down and gives you time to think,” he adds. “Inner-city kids could learn a lot about patience. Golf teaches you class and character.”

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Jordan usually employs a conservative strategy on the course, always playing the position game. On hole 13, a 454-yard par five, he tees off with an 8-iron instead of trying to clear the lake 200 yards away. “Why take the chance of hitting it into the water?” he says. “I know I’m getting on in three anyway.” A long 3-iron shot and Jordan is an easy pitch from the hole, about 100 yards away. He hits a line drive that flies over the green. “C----sucking motherf---er!” he says, becoming Scarface for a minute, then calms down to set up his reapproach. His shot looks good, hitting the mound where the ball would normally roll slowly toward the pin. Instead, it just sticks there. “That’s the thing about golf,” he says after taking his bogey. “I couldn’t have hit that shot any better. What more do you want from me? But the course don’t care.”

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At the end of the round, he’s five over par, but one day, he vows, he’s going to master those mean acres. “I want to be a scratch golfer. And when I’m 50, I want to play on the Senior PGA Tour.” He says it on the golf course, so you know he’s serious.

This story originally appeared in the June 13 issue of Billboard