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]