Jimmy Fallon is getting serious about his golf game

Jimmy Fallon and Samuel L. Jackson
Jimmy Fallon, with avid golfer Samuel L. Jackson, might wear silly golf clothes on TV, but he is becoming more dedicated to his game.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 | 8:28 p.m.

For decades, "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson punctuated his nightly monologue with a pantomimed golf swing. Ironically, Carson came to prefer tennis as his go-to game.

Now, 22 years after Carson retired, the "Tonight Show" is again being hosted by a golfer – and this time one dedicated to the game.

Yes, it turns out, Jimmy Fallon has playing since childhood. He did a number of golf-related segments on "Late Night" over the years and, now that he's got his hands firmly on the wheel at the "Tonight Show," he wants to get into the game even more.

"Golf is gonna be my thing" now that he's graduated to the "Tonight Show," he said in a recent interview with Jada Yuan in New York Magazine – conducted while they hit balls in a simulator. 

"I have to be a rich old white guy, that's what I have to become," quipped Fallon, who counts Michael J. Fox and chef Mario Batali among his regular playing partners. "It's so sad, but I gotta play the part, man. I've already got my cardigan."

Fallon joined his high-school golf team, he explained, because he heard a school announcement saying, "'Uh, hey, if there's anyone interested in joining the golf team, we need one more player or else we can't have a team.' So I was like, Well, so I'll definitely make this team if I try out."

MORE: Craig Ferguson is golf's latest convert | Kristen Stewart can 'spank' a golf ball

And high-school golf provided Fallon – a self-described non-athlete – with his greatest sports triumph, when he sank a long-distance putt to clinch a team victory.

"Sun's setting, it's quiet, everyone's watching, pressure's on," he recalled. "Oh my God, it was crazy. I go" – he pretends to putt and clicks his tongue – "and I'm just watching it, it's so slow motion, and it fell into the hole, and we won, and everyone’s like Whaat!? 

"If there is a 'Rocky' of golf moments – it was so awesome I'll never forget that," he added. "You'd think a hole-in-one is people's dream. For me, it was just finishing and not being a loser."

Despite all his joking, Fallon is serious about his golf game. He's gone through a personal clubfitting, and is taking weekly lessons. Off the course, he's reading golf books, watching "Caddyshack" and doing calisthenics. 

"I twerk for about 25 minutes. There's a lot of hip motions.

"Shakira," he observes, "is probably very good at golf."

And on that note, here are videos of some of Fallon's golf antics over the years: