17 mins read

Leoni Online: The Articles — Maximum Golf

18 With Téa Leoni In a friendly game of strip golf, the sweet-swinging, trash-talking star of The Family Man bets big and loses her shirt – and her pants, too

By Lizz Winstead

golf1-8469974 After pulling into Téa Leoni’s driveway at 9 a.m., I can’t figure out which door to enter. This cottage nestled in the Malibu Hills brings to mind an old Tuscan farmhouse, rustic with many little entryways and outdoor sitting areas, each one cozier than the next. While I’m trying to decide which door to knock on, Téa comes flying out of one of them like a dervish, her blond hair whipping every which way.

Wearing a matching bra and panties, she looks at me and shrieks, “I just woke up!” She looks me up and down. “Is that all you’re wearing? Hmmmm. Well, at least your shirt has a collar and your shorts hit the knee. They’re strict about that stuff where we’re playing. I think about it. I’ve made a really bad decision. In one hour, I’m playing strip golf with Téa – who has an eight handicap – as my partner. Our opponents are former Saturday Night Live star Kevin Nealon, who shoots in the low 90s, and Scott Hamilton, one of a very rare breed – a straight male figure skater who plays scratch golf. And me? Well, I normally shoot three times the number of bullets the NYPD fired at Amadou Diallo, and I have on shorts, a shirt, a bra, briefs, socks, and shoes. I didn’t even remember a hat. Téa says, “We’ve got to get you more than that!” I follow her into the bedroom, a haven of antique armoires and tapestries and more closets than the Catholic Church. As she rushes around, pulling on clothes she hurls random items at me: a Russian fur hat, swimming goggles…a nursing bra? “That’s for Kevin,” she deadpans.

golf2-8488610 “And now I am going to do the ultimate golf-chick thing,” she says, brandishing an argyle cashmere sweater.

“You’re not gonna tie that around your neck are you?” “Worse,” says Téa. She wraps it around her waist, covering up her tiny ass. We all have our issues. Her husband, David Duchovny, sporting a rumpled bedhead do, returns from a Starbucks run. We all sit in the kitchen, and he hands Téa one of those weird soy/miso/coffee combos that are big in L.A. – and that totally ruin the coffee. He says matter-of-factly, “Tell me again – why is it that I’m not playing golf with you guys today?” “Who wants to play strip golf with her husband,” Téa responds. He raises an eyebrow thoughtfully – point taken. “Have you seen that tiny little key for the golf travel bag?” Téa asks, sipping her coffee and frantically stuffing a canvas satchel with extra clothing and other paraphernalia: cameras, winter gloves, extra socks. “It’s in a drawer somewhere,” says Duchovny, ever the helpful husband. As he and Téa rifle through their dressers, I head outside to the driveway, not feeling comfortable enough to join the boudoir search. Téa is a friend, but still, I wouldn’t feel right looking through her husband’s sock drawer. Five minutes later, Téa emerges from the house with Duchovny right behind her. He bounds toward the garage with a hammer, displaying all the glee of a little boy on his way to shove a firecracker in a frog’s mouth. “This’ll work as well as the key,” he says. I don’t know what kind of damage he inflicts, but he liberates the clubs quickly. Minutes later, Téa and I climb into her big-ass navy-blue Dodge Ram pickup and zoom off. Next stop, a detour to collect Nealon – and then on to the playground of the very rich and famous (and, hopefully, a place where disrobing during golf is tolerated), Sherwood Country Club. Kevin Nealon lives just a canyon away from Téa. He’s waiting for us in the driveway, working a kind of Henry Fonda On Golden Pond look – sophisticated yet geriatric. As we cruise the winding roads from the Malibu Hills north into the San Fernando Valley, I casually ask, “Hey, Kevin, why do you think Téa chose you for a round of strip golf?” “I had my dick blown off in Nam,” Nealon replies dryly, “and she’s always wanted to see the stump.” “Actually, I chose you – and Scott – because I know women who have slept with both of you,” Téa counters. “Both women said it was amazing, so naturally I wanted to see the goods.” Nealon tries to pry a name out of Téa, but she won’t reveal her sources. “It was ages ago – your Saturday Night Live days,” she says. “Let it go. It’s a good thing.” It was Téa’s idea to play Sherwood for this round of golf. It’s a beautiful place – there are weedless flower beds everywhere, and I hear tell that the developer spent a rumored $40 million planting trees on the property. This spot was previously the setting for Errol Flynn’s classic film The Adventures of Robin Hood. Hence the name.

golf4tn-3390149 As we pull up to the gates, the display of McMansions and other trappings of wealth is slightly overwhelming – here a Bentley, there a Porsche, everywhere a Rolls-Royce. The security guard calls down to the clubhouse to announce our presence, and we proceed through the portal of privilege to the pro shop. Téa flips through a rack of knee-length madras shorts. “You know what I like best about golf? The clothes.”

I’m taken aback. Téa is a big-time movie star who could be a poster child for Prada. I resist the urge to chide her for her professed yen for pro-shop shopping. Instead, I help her find a hat. She needs one with a big brim so as not to risk a painful sunburn if she happens to – ahem – lose her shirt. After trying on several of those obnoxious lids that recall Hogan (Aussie actor Paul, not golf legend Ben), she settles on a modish straw number that Audrey Hepburn might have worn, and we head to the range to hit a few before the garment shedding begins. “I don’t like to warm up too much – screws up my game,” Téa says. After I brutally shank one to the right, she gives me my first pointer of the day: “Dick to the stick.” “Excuse me?” “Dick to the stick – it’s the best advice I ever got. When you follow through, make sure your dick is facing the stick. And use those hips, for God’s sake. God gave women hips for two reasons – to give birth and to smack the s— out of a golf ball.” Out of the corner of my eye I spot our host, Scott Hamilton, talking to none other than Bruce Jenner. Sherwood’s membership is loaded with great athletes of the ’70s and ’80s, including Jenner, Hamilton, and Wayne Gretzky. I’m introduced to Jenner, who’s about six foot four, and to Hamilton, who’s nowhere near six anything. Jenner is wearing the largest sunglasses I’ve ever seen and has a chiseled quality that rivals Siegfried & Roy. “One more drive and let’s hit it,” Hamilton says. He smacks a 250-yard screamer. I may as well just take it all off now and get it over with. After we check in with the starter, Téa coyly turns to Nealon and in a very convincing tone says, “I’ve heard Scott has a really huge penis.” We climb into our cart, and she gives me pointer number two: “When you tell a guy the other guy he’s playing is bigger, it totally throws his game.” What that, she whizzes us over to the first tee. The competition is stiff on the front nine – or at least I think they may be getting excited. I take off a necklace; Téa removes her watch, and I lose a ring and then my hat. On the fifth tee, it dawns on Téa and me: We’re the only two stripping down. I finish the hole with a nine and Téa cards an eight. As I discover during the next 13 holes, playing braless is neither easy nor pretty. “How often do you get out and play with other women?” I ask Téa as the cart careens and bumps, constantly reminding me of my gender. “Here and there,” Téa says, “but some of the women I play with only golf so they can have something in common with their husbands. They don’t care about improving their game. After playing 10 years, they still squeal with delight when they hit a 90-yard drive and I think, You play golf for the same reason you have sex with your husband: You’ll know his whereabouts for a couple of hours a month.” “But why golf?” “‘Cause you can smoke and do it at the same time, so it immediately became my new passion.” “Did it replace another passion?” “Yeah, smoking in bed. When you find a sport that involves driving around and smoking, it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot. I used to smoke a pack a round, and when I quit, it messed up my game for a while, but I focused and I got it back.” “Do you still think about cigarettes?” “About every minute.” She tees up on number six and rips it 225 yards down the middle, past both of the guys. “Maybe we can get one of them to at least lose a belt on this hole,” she says. As the guys pull up to us at the chick tee, Téa asks with mock curiosity, “Where did Nealon end up on that shot?” Hamilton replies, “About 10 yards past the dwarf,” and they scurry off to their balls, annoyed that we came to the course so “overdressed.” Téa and I turn to each other and simultaneously ask, “Did he just call himself a dwarf?” I think he did. Hamilton pars the hole, Nealon double bogeys, and Téa takes off her hat. The back nine is getting ugly. Téa’s putting is way off. She cards a nine on the 13th hole – and removes her cashmere ass protector. “Motherf—er!” she hisses under her breath as she heads back to the cart. “Is this a bad time to ask about the movie?” I inquire. I have just made my second par of the round, and I’m feeling, let’s just say, the opposite of Téa. “No, why?” “Well, the swearing festival that just came out of your mouth signaled to me that maybe you wanted some quiet time.” “Nah, that’s mostly for show.” Here comes pointer number three: “If you want men to respect you on the course, you have to pretend to be really pissed off when you hit a bad shot. You can’t be like, ‘Oh, I don’t care how I do. It’s just fun to be outside on a beautiful day.’ Throw a couple of f—s around and you’ll always have a cart mate.” “Is the f-word acceptable on every golf course in America?” “It is on every course I’ve played.” “How about the c-word?” “Definitely not.” “Have you ever used it when you play?” “Of course.” “I’m appalled. Now, about the movie.” “It’s called The Family Man,” Téa says. “It’s kind of a modern-day It’s a Wonderful Life. Nicolas Cage and I are sweethearts, and he moves overseas for business. Cut to 10 years later. He becomes a powerful Wall Street guy who makes a bazillion dollars, finds a really hot chick, and leaves me in the dust. He is then given an opportunity to go back and see what would have happened had we stayed together. The premise makes me laugh, ’cause in reality if a guy was making millions of dollars and f—king Amber Valletta, he wouldn’t give me a second thought!” “How is Nicolas Cage to work with?” “He is hilarious in this. I loved working with him. He’s really sweet.” “The character you play is sort of an average housewife, which is a role we don’t normally see you in.” “Yeah, it was very different for me. I was a fat f— going into this thing. I gained 69 pounds for my pregnancy, lost all but 20, and stopped working out. Let’s be honest – there’s nothing worse than seeing some ripped Hollywood actress trying to play the role of a single mom with two kids, yet she still has the time and money to see her trainer three times a week.” That was then and this is now, and Téa is a ripped Hollywood actress once again. As she tees off on 15, she hits the ball, uncharacteristically, a measly 35 yards, reaches the green in four, and three-putts, giving her a seven on this par-4 – and giving us a chance to watch her decide what comes off next, her pants or her shirt. “How is it that I am not putting at all? Where’s my putting? You know what I think? I think that when I gave birth I lose part of my brain in all of the purging, and it must have been the part that I need to have a strong putting game. “The pants are going. I’ve decided it’s the pants,” she says. “It will be easier to keep my head down on the final two holes if I am looking down at my underwear and not my bare boobs.” Nealon chimes in, “Yeah, you don’t want ’em slapping you around.” He takes a moment to assess Téa’s now scantily clad body. “I thought you would have been a little fleshier – I’m impressed. “I didn’t need the hat anyway,” he continues, smugly driving home the fact that it’s the only thing he has had to remove during the round. “So much for seeing the goods, Téa.” Hamilton is reacting in a completely different way – sort of like the kid talked into having a party at his house while his parents are away. As he looks at Téa, who’s wearing nothing but a golf shirt and underwear, you can see the fear in his eyes. This is a course he plays three times a week, he lives on the grounds, and he has to answer to a lot of rich white guys who make the rules here. “A member was recently suspended for dropping his pants out here,” he says nervously, “so we should play it cool.” As we approach the 18th tee, there is silence on all fronts. We sit in our carts, each contemplating whether this really hot actress should tee off wearing something dangerously close to the outfit in which she started her day. Hamilton’s expression looks like that of a skater about to fall through pond ice.

Before she tees up, Téa slips her pants back on. Hamilton’s face registers the relief of a Russian-roulette player who pulled the trigger on an empty chamber. I personally didn’t see a problem – did we break any rules? After all, she was still wearing a collar.

Transcribed by Alfornos.