It’s a warm southern California morning, and I’m meeting Zac Efron in Studio City at a place called Weddington Golf & Tennis. With a name that stuffy, I expect marble and money. The course turns out to be public, with a plastic-cup snack bar where a waitress, without looking up, informs the 24-year-old movie star that she doesn’t take credit cards. They’ve reserved us a private tee, which is approximately 4 feet away from the adjacent public one.
Here at the practice range, Efron—in T-shirt, oversized cap, shorts, and Vans—strolls around in disarming anonymity, though to be fair, it’s hard for even the preeminent teen pinup of the 2000s to attract notice in a crowd that includes this many codgers in lavender pants. After talking and meandering (not especially well) through a bucket of golfballs, we encounter Roger Dunn, a California golf-shop magnate who gives lessons wearing a Panama hat and smoky sunglasses. We’d heard that Dunn is just shy of his 50th year of teaching, and he’s been introduced to us as a man of considerable local repute. Mostly Dunn has something to teach, and Efron is drawn to that.
“I could pick up almost anything,” Efron had told me earlier. “If you put it in front of me, I could always find a way to tackle it. I was never a natural at anything, but I could always outwork everybody.” He’d mentioned Bruce Lee, a man he’s been reading about. “What you got from him was the work ethic,” Efron said.
“Constant diligence. He was so focused, constantly pushing his body.” And so, at the eventual behest of the old teacher, the former star of “High School Musical” sets up on the range, absorbing Dunn’s sharp tips and rebukes. Dunn tells him to watch his back foot (“Keep it steady”), twist his wrists on the follow-through (“Rotate, come on, give me a break”), and focus (“Aw, there you moved your feet”). [Continue reading the article]