MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
9 Questions With Kyle MacLachlan October 6, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By David Chmiel, USGA

Actors Damian Lewis, Greg Kinnear and Kyle MacLachlan and 2014 Europe Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley at St. Andrews. (Courtesy/ Kyle MacLachlan)

When you change your surname back to the traditional Scottish spelling, you might have a golf obsession.

“I come by my passion for golf naturally,” said actor Kyle MacLachlan, who is a USGA member. “My dad’s clanlands are in Linlithgow, Scotland. My mom, Catherine, had roots in Cornwall. I guess it was inevitable that we would be golfers.”

He was born into the Americanized name that his father, born Kent McLachlan, inherited from his father, but Kyle returned to the name of his Scottish forebears right before he struck it big in a series of projects with acclaimed director David Lynch, who saw him as the all-American guy who finds himself trying to navigate situations for which nobody could be prepared.

From MacLachlan’s first role in 1984’s “Dune” to playing opposite Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini the classic “Blue Velvet,” MacLachlan hit it big as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper in the mythically quirky TV town of “Twin Peaks. He went on to star in “Sex and the City, “Desperate Housewives,”Portlandia” and a variety of film and theater roles, but MacLachlan, Lynch and many of the original cast members have reunited for a new “Twin Peaks,” to air this spring on Showtime.

“What an experience,” said MacLachlan. “Getting back together with David, many friends from the original cast is a dream. All I can say is that it picks up 25 years later. You have to watch to see what happens. It was a joy to pick it right back up, all of us a little wiser. It’s going to be huge and as interesting and unexpected as the original. We’re sitting on a great secret and it’s going to be fun to watch it unfold.”

MacLachlan smoothly diverted any more attempts at gleaning any more “Twin Peaks” intel by talking about his love of the game.

“I grew up in Yakima, Wash. My dad, Kent, was a star athlete, but he was a golf stud,” said MacLachlan. “I think he even played in a U.S. Junior Amateur in the ‘50s. He played four years of varsity golf at the University of Washington and played pretty close to scratch when I was growing up. He was a feel player, really good around the green. Dad was a Jack Nicklaus guy, but I really liked Johnny Miller. Hey, it was the ’70s. I had the big reverse-C swing. My two younger brothers, Craig and Kent, also play. They’re still up in Seattle. We all have similar flaws, but I work harder on my game.”

“We played at [USGA Member Club] Yakima Country Club. I loved the game. I would play and practice all summer. I worked hard at it, shot in the 70s and earned my varsity letters at Eisenhower High School. I was good but never great.” MacLachlan shared more about his life on and off the course:

What happened after high school?

I went to Washington, too, but the theater thing took over and I started my own journey. I didn’t play much at all, but I looked forward to getting home because my dad and I would always play. We had a great time. But then something awesome happened… acting got me back into the game. I got invited to play in Michael Douglas’ event in Los Angeles. I hadn’t played in so long that my woods were still actually made from wood. There were lots of big stars there and a representative from the Dunhill Links [a PGA European Tour event featuring professionals and celebrities] was there to recruit for their event at St. Andrews. I guess they needed somebody so they asked me.

MacLachlan and Hugh Grant brave the elements duing a round at the Dunhill Links. (Courtesy/Getty Images)

What is it like playing in in the Dunhill Links?

Playing the Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie inspire me. I marvel at the pros’ God-given ability. I play to a Handicap Index of 11; it isn’t lost on me how much of a gap there is between me and them. But that appeals to me! They are no bigger or even more flexible than I am. I am athletic, but not an athlete and every year, I get to be around the best players in the world. I try not to embarrass myself, especially in the birthplace of golf. But I also see how hard they work and I just try to steal anything they do or share with me. I have played with Paul McGinley since 2001 and he is fantastic. I learn so much from him and the rest of the players. Padraig Harrington is amazing and shares, but he is on a different plane than me. He will be talking about the swing and half the time, I find myself saying, “Wait. What?” Trying to keep up is almost as terrifying as trying not to hit someone in the gallery.

What is it about the game that appeals to you?

All of it. I remember those moments with my dad and the guys, playing, just enjoying nature – and the built-in camaraderie of the competition. You want to play your best, but celebrate everyone’s good shots. It’s a perfect sport. I usually take my clubs to all my shoots so I can get away from the character, from the filming and find some peace in nature. But I also am mechanical, to the nth degree, I believe that getting the best out of my game is possible if I just do the work. We are primarily New York City residents now. I play about 10 rounds a year. So, most of the time, I work on my swing at Golf & Body NYC, where I bang balls into the curtain and study the videotape and try to make all the adjustments that can help me find my swing. 

Tell us about your involvement with Dr. Jane Aronson and her Worldwide Orphans Foundation.

That came about through my wife (Desiree Gruber), who is very active in charitable causes. Worldwide Orphans rehabilitates communities in areas of extreme poverty and disaster by equipping vulnerable children to thrive and become the transformational leaders their communities need. We have an 8-year-old son of our own and we felt the strong pull to help Dr. Jane and her mission. The message is so powerful, her organization creates families. How gratifying is it to help spread that message? We get to help children at home as well as in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Haiti, Serbia and Vietnam. I will be in Cannes doing publicity for Twin Peaks for a week this month, but will be able to get home for their fundraiser Oct. 20 at Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in New York. Golf is such a special connector for people to do good. The spirit of giving back to your community is a beautiful thing to see.

Do you have a favorite golf movie? What has to happen to make a golf movie?

I am a huge Bill Murray fan, so it has to be “Caddyshack,” which is actually really a hilarious character study. I was in a movie in 2010 called “Mao’s Last Dancer.” It was a wonderful movie, but if the main character couldn’t dance, it wouldn’t have worked. That said, to make a truly great golf movie, it has to be honest. That starts with great swings. Golfers are tough audiences, so you can’t fake it. I would love to do a good golf movie.

MacLachlan said playing the Old Course at St. Andrews gives him a great connection to golf and his Scottish roots. (Getty Images)

Is there a golf book that connected with you?

I had read Golf in the Kingdom before I played in the Dunhill for the first time, which was the first time I would be playing in Scotland. I was back to the game, going to my homeland… I was so connected. I finished the first round and was walking back to the Old Course Hotel. I was glowing. The feeling has never left me, pure magic.

What would a David Lynch golf movie look like?

Not sure I could even think about going there, but I have played with Dennis Hopper, so that is a good place to start. He loved the game. Once, we were playing Riviera – one of my favorites – with producer Shep Gordon and rock star Alice Cooper. I was looking around, thinking, “How did I get here?” He and Alice, who is a really good player, had such a great sense of humor that made it really fun to play with them.

Academy Award or U.S. Open champion?

That is a tough one, sort of. Winning your national championship is one of sport’s greatest feats. It would be a thrilling thing to accomplish, because you win it yourself, by beating the field. With an Academy Award, your fate is in the hands of the voters. But with either one, you get a stamp of approval, entrance into a club that precious few belong to.

Are you a dewsweeper or do you prefer playing later?

I love getting up early, grabbing a bagel and coffee and getting to the course first thing in the morning. I put the bag on my shoulder for a walking round with my friends. We are finished in about three hours. It’s a great way to start the day!

David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at dchmiel@usga.org.