Gareth Bale is widely regarded as one of the finest British players in history, with the Welsh forward having earned his stripes in the Premier League with Southampton and Tottenham before heading to Real Madrid in 2013.
Multiple La Liga and Champions League titles were added to Bale's CV at Santiago Bernabeu, but he also became well known for his love of a different sport during his time in Spain and later in the United States.
He is sometimes referred to as 'The Golfer' by team-mates and some Real Madrid fans, but why? GOAL is here to explain the origin of the retired star's nickname.
Why is Gareth Bale called 'The Golfer'?
Bale's unofficial moniker 'The Golfer' was initially given to him in 2019 by Madrid team-mate Thibaut Courtois, who claimed that the former Premier League star made little effort to join in with the rest of the squad outside training and matchdays.
The Cardiff native was often pictured on the golf course in his downtime when he lived in the Spanish capital, leading to suggestions that he was putting the sport ahead of his commitments at the Bernabeu.
"A lot of people have problems with me playing golf," Bale told the EAL podcast when responding to those claims in 2020. "I don't know what their reason is because I've spoken to doctors and everybody's fine with it."
Gareth Bale is even playing golf in Real Madrid training 😆🏌️ pic.twitter.com/wmNKec4FDm— GOAL (@goal) December 6, 2019
Bale also joked about his passion for golf amid the criticism for the Spanish media in the past, most notably when holding up a 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order' banner after Wales qualification for Euro 2020.
However, after scoring twice in Wales' World Cup qualifying play-off victory over Austria on March 24, 2022, the Madrid striker hit back angrily at his critics after a report from Spanish newspaper Marca that labelled him a "parasite" while accusing him of "sucking" money from the Liga giants.
Bale stated that the publication "should be ashamed of themselves" after the game and later wrote on social media: "At a time when people are taking their own lives because of the callousness and relentlessness of the media, I want to know, who is holding these journalists and the news outlets that allow them to write articles like this, accountable?"
Salah's basketball fails 🏀— GOAL (@goal) May 18, 2021
Bale's golf trickshots 👀
Pogba the fighting machine 🔥
Some footballers are just as good at other sports... but not all of them! 😂 pic.twitter.com/rW82b1WCIe
What is Gareth Bale's golf handicap?
Bale has become a very accomplished golfer after years of honing his skills, and now plays off a very respectable handicap of two.
That number puts Bale in the bracket of an above-average golfer, and close to the milestone of 'scratch' (0), but not quite at the level of those playing in the professional ranks.
The Madrid star previously revealed a handicap of 'three or four' after playing a six-hole match at Golf Santander with Erik Anders in 2020, having explained why he enjoys the sport so much the previous year.
"Football is my No.1 sport. I'm paid to do it and I always give my best. Golf is a hobby like anyone else would have a hobby," said Bale. "There is nothing wrong with having a round. People make a lot of it, but a lot of footballers play and it's one thing I really enjoy.
"It keeps me calmer off the pitch and gives me time away from football which is nice.”