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Leoni Online: The Articles — Golf for Women

Téa Time

golfdigestcovertn-6821123 Téa Leoni is funny, smart and a die-hard golfer. In addition to her roles as actor, wife and mother of two, she’s also a passionate campaigner in the fight against breast cancer.

By Susan Reed

Golf For Women Magazine

How long have you been playing?
I started in 1997 while I was on the television series, The Naked Truth. It seemed as if everybody in TV was holding important meetings on the seventh green: producers, writers, mostly guys. I thought it would be a really good idea to learn the game; we could all play golf and discuss the show. Then, the first time I played, I thought, “This is such a great lifetime activity.” As I imagined the future and having children, I thought how wonderful it would be to spend four hours on the golf course with your husband and kids.

Do you remember the first shot you ever hit?
Absolutely. I was in Hawaii, and it was a 7-iron. I took a nice short backswing and hit a perfect shot about 140 yards. I’m not a surfer, but you know how people talk about the perfect wave? This 7-iron had that kind of sex appeal. I was instantly hooked. I started going crazy; there were days when 36 holes were nothing; I was going for 45 and 50 holes a day. I was freaking out, I was so in love with the sport. I guess it says a lot about what was going on in my life then.

Where’s your favorite place to play?
My husband, David [Duchovny], and I love the Malibu Country Club, a public course near us. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, even though you know it’s going to be a long round. We also love the Four Seasons Kona [on Hawaii]. You go out the first day and you think, “This is such a lame course; they’re catering to the spa set.” By your third round, it’s destroying you.

Who are your favorite golf partners?
My husband. And Kevin Nealon. He’s an absolute riot on the course.

Did golf play a role in meeting your husband?
Kind of. We met the first time when we both auditioned to be on The Tonight Show. People don’t know this, but early in your career, you don’t just glide on to The Tonight Show. You have to go to lunch with the producers so they can see if you’re charming and interesting enough to be on the show. Right before lunch, they called and asked if they could bring another actor. It was David. I’m thinking, “These people are cheap. Maybe they want us to share a meal.” The second time I met him, I was at my agent’s office. David was on the phone. I asked if he played golf; he said he’d learn. I said to my agent, “Tell him to call me when he breaks 100.” David called three weeks later and the first thing I said to him was “liar.” But we started playing together. Now he’s very good, although he’ll deny it. I suppose we all do. golfdigest-4605329

What kind of clubs do you play?
I use Callaways. I have a driver with a firm flex. Honestly, I think you might as well get the biggest thing at the bottom of the stick and go for the ocean.

What’s your game like?
I have a fast swing and I can outdrive a lot of the men I play with. Of course, I only play with people from retirement communities. I can hit it 200 yards. I’ve seen 230.

What are your favorite parts of the game?
I find the math of golf pleasing. I really enjoy thinking, “Should I take out the 4-wood instead of the driver?” I really enjoy my 4-wood. And I love the shoes. At one point, I had 14 pairs of golf shoes. I was the Imelda Marcos of Softspikes. I bought my favorite pair in France. I saw them in the window of a store in Nice. They’re a British make called Westons. Instead of getting a beautiful pair of pumps, I bought golf shoes.

You’re very involved in the battle against breast cancer. How did you get started?
About eight years ago, I was approached by a woman who worked with a group called Expedition Inspiration that holds an annual hike in L.A. to raise money and awareness. She asked if I had ever been touched by this disease. I had just turned 30, and it occurred to me that I had never personally known anybody who had breast cancer. I thought, “What a perfect time to get involved.” I attended the hike and listened to the stories and was incredibly inspired.

What motivates you?
The numbers, the effects, the rapidity of the illness. The devastation that it causes far beyond physical scarring. Last summer, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for a checkup; the doctor did an ultrasound and saw something he didn’t like. By 2:30 that afternoon, he said, “Let’s biopsy it.” I realized at that moment how quickly this can happen. We found out the next day it was malignant. Eight days later, she had a double mastectomy. There was no time to think. It’s about survival.

We tried to keep things light. We said, “Just think, you can get a new set of great tits!” We were trying to keep it light and lewd at the same time in a horrible attempt at avoidance. Fortunately, she’s fine now.

What separates this crusade from others?
Have you noticed how few breast cancer events are held in ballrooms with bad chicken? Our events involve hiking, mountaineering, playing tennis or golf. Right there, you see the sentiment behind this. We are off our asses and fighting.