As a child, Paul Casey pictured himself in a Porsche poster. As a student, he fulfilled an American dream. As a family man, this pro golf player found his bearings.
A man and his bag: Englishman Paul Casey playing on the North American PGA Tour. He has been a professional golfer for the past twenty years.
Each badge holds a memory: “I was tough as nails to myself and to others.”
Green Monster: that’s the nickname given to the Porsche North Course just outside Hamburg. Casey vanquished it at the Porsche European Open and is now the title holder.
Precision: at the age of forty-three, Casey has won nineteen pro titles. And his meticulousness in preparation has not fallen by the wayside.
Calmness was something Casey had to learn. He’s now solidly grounded—not least thanks to his children.
Childhood dream: as a child, Casey pictured himself in a Porsche poster. His enthusiasm for Porsche can still be seen in the small details.
His 911: Casey enjoys every ride in his GT3 RS, generation 991: “I like it when a drive becomes an experience.” Porsche 911 GT3 RS: Fuel consumption combined: 13.2 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined: 303 g/km (as of 10/2020)
No coincidence: the coffee beans come from Casey's favorite café: Fourtillfour. A subtle reference to the legendary Porsche 356.
Stacked high: Casey is working on expanding his fleet—among other things, he is expecting a GT3 RS, generation 996, and a 718 GT4. Porsche 718 Cayman GT4: Fuel consumption combined: 10,9 – 10,2 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions combined: 249 – 232 g/km (as of 10/2020)
Window to happiness: Casey on a visit to Mike's Man Cave—a garage, retreat, and gym all in one.
No one would think twice if Paul Casey offered to brew them a cup of filter coffee on this morning in an Arizona desert. It would be quick, tasty, and fine. What is remarkable is that he doesn’t. Instead, this British pro golfer prepares an espresso with the care of a superb open-heart surgeon: highly focused but relaxed. The espresso-making ritual reflects a love of detail only possible in someone who has arrived—in life and in himself. Someone who takes the time to do exactly what he wants.
Casey has acquired fresh coffee beans from his friend Nico, a Porsche fan and owner of the Fourtillfour café. Expressed as a time, the name would be 3:56—a subtle evocation of the legendary Porsche model parked enticingly out in front. Casey monitors the grinding process and inspects the grain size as if it were the green before a putt. He puts exactly twenty grams of coffee into a portafilter, packs it, pre-brews it for nine seconds, and pulls the wooden lever down for twenty-eight seconds. He places the resulting cup on the table and watches with the expectant gaze of a boy who has just made his father a sandwich for the first time. The pro athlete waits for his guest’s nod of approval after the first sip. He gets it. And smiles. And looks utterly satisfied.
But now we set off on a joyride in his Porsche GT3 RS, generation 991, driving past cacti and stone formations and through towns with delightful names like Paradise Valley. Casey came to Arizona twenty-five years ago as a student, and never left. “Like a lot of teenagers, probably, I wanted to get as far away as possible from home, and 8,000 kilometers seemed good. But then I noticed how beautiful it is here.” That’s certainly true. A vibrant city like Scottsdale with its fantastic restaurants and nightclubs in the middle of a breathtakingly gorgeous desert with spectacular hiking trails and golf courses is a combination only a few places in the world can offer.
“I like it when a drive becomes an experience, when I pull through a curve a little faster than everyone else,” he says with pleasure after sailing around a traffic circle as if in orbit. His mischievous light blue eyes sparkle. “A car should have a character, a soul. Like a 911 of the 996 generation. It’s wild and rebellious, but that’s what makes it unique. There are manufacturers that make only one cool model. But at Porsche, every car in the entire product range has a distinctive character.”
Casey’s almost childlike enthusiasm intensifies all the more when we stop at a mechanic’s workshop run by another friend. Like a kid at an amusement park who is free to try out all the roller coasters, he rushes from vehicle to vehicle. A green Porsche 968 Turbo S is over here, a gleaming black vintage Porsche 911 Targa stands over there, and beyond that a silver Porsche 912. All are being repaired or restored, and all offer deep insights into their inner lives. Casey eagerly asks the mechanic for details. He is forty-three years old, has won nineteen pro titles, the Ryder Cup three times, and was ranked number three in the world. Yet he acts like Peter Pan in Neverland. Isn’t that what we try to foster in our children, namely, that they never grow up to such an extent that they lose the capacity for unadulterated enthusiasm?
“I wanted to be a race-car driver, but was better at sports with balls and clubs.” Paul Casey
A poster of a silver Porsche 959 hung in Casey’s room as a boy in the town of Weybridge near London. “I wanted to be a race-car driver, and was constantly drawing cars and racetracks,” he says. “But I was better at sports with balls and clubs, and tried my hand at nearly everything.” As a child he was more like Roger Federer, who also did a number of sports and only started focusing later on tennis, and less like his colleague Tiger Woods, whose incredible talent propelled him straight into a career in professional golf. “As a teenager I won more awards in golf than in other sports. It was a cool feeling to be good at it.”
One could say there was a type of athletic natural selection going on. Paul Casey the rugby player was the first to disappear, then the race-car driver, then the tennis player—until finally the golf player was left. Casey had been one of the boys who always lounged on the very back row of the school bus, but after a while he began sitting in the front right behind the driver—because he needed so much space for his golf equipment. Many professional athletes describe a similar progression of stages that starts with a childhood dream, becomes a wish, then a hope, then an early success or two, and finally a career pursued with passion.
Despite all his achievements, Casey continues to move through all the phases of his career—although the urgent ambition of youth has now acquired a counterbalance of calm. “I know that I’ve arrived. But the ability to shift into a different mental state helps me not to lose that fire.” His sights are set on more championship titles, although they are not as important as they once were. Now what counts on the golf course is to achieve victory over himself, and play an outstanding round. Indeed, Casey enjoys the journey more than the destination.
“I used to think you had to be tough.”
He has been playing professional golf for twenty years, and thinks he was not exactly one of the most popular players on the tour in the first half of his career. “I was tough as nails to myself and to others. I was grimly determined, and not necessarily a joy off the course either,” he recalls. “I always used to think you had to be tough to be good. Maybe that was also the case for athletes like Michael Jordan or Lance Armstrong. But at some point I realized that I could be just as good or better if I’m also a nice guy. That calming down in no way means lowering your performance.”
He describes a defining experience at the Dutch Open in 2014. His son Lex had just been born two weeks earlier. “I wasn’t playing well, and then my colleague Fabrizio Zanotti was hit on the head by a ball. That was a shock.” During the break in play, he sat in the clubhouse and stewed, asking himself what he was doing there. “I thought‚ ‘Forget it!’ I just wanted to go home, and started looking up flights.” His fiancée Pollyanna, whom he married in 2015, convinced him to stay. “That took the pressure off. I felt it would be OK even if I made a bad shot, because afterwards I’d be flying home to my family.”
He won the tournament. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Lex is jumping gleefully up and down on the sofa as his father tells this story. Or that his three-year-old daughter Astaria plops into the swimming pool like the very epitome of freedom, and that Pollyanna smiles as she watches the lively goings-on in this house of contentment. Or maybe it’s not a coincidence. It could be yet another of those moments of equilibrium that are part of the charisma Casey exudes. With the relaxed composure of someone who does things not because he has to, but because he wants to.
He wants to keep talking about his passion for Porsche. About the concentrated power of his black GT3 RS, which he has already demonstrated. About his white GT3 RS of generation 997 which will soon return from the mechanic’s, while his third GT3 RS of generation 996 is waiting to be shipped from England to the USA. And about his Porsche 718 GT4 that will soon be delivered. When he thinks back to the poster in his room as a child, it all seems incredible to him. And he is grateful.
Lex is now quietly drawing Star Wars spaceships. They are more interesting to him than the talk about cars. Goodness, what will become of this little fellow one day when he too fulfills all of his dreams? Then it’s time for Casey to brew another espresso. Which, by the way, is truly an experience.