Major winner shares harrowing tale from his bartending days

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke had a harrowing experience a few weeks into his first job.

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Darren Clarke is a European golf legend: winner of the 2011 Open Championship, a five-time member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team and the captain of Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup team.

Clarke is now on the PGA Tour Champions, where he has notched four victories, including this year’s Senior Open.

But Clarke’s sparkling career was perilously close to never happening at all. Ahead of this week’s Constellation Furyk & Friends tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Clarke shared a harrowing story from his first (and worst) job.

“First job was working in a nightclub as a bartender,” Clarke began. “And I just started, it was my third week at this nightclub part of the club. And I was in early setting up. It was before push-button soda, the little mixer bottles. I was stashing them, making sure everything was stocked and all that sort of stuff.

“I was in from 6, doors opened at 8:30. Nine-fifteen we got a bomb scare. Everybody out. Whole place cleared. I think that was about 9:00. And then 9:30, bomb went off. Flattened — the whole place was demolished. Absolutely demolished. So that was probably my first and worst.”

Looking back, Clarke says things could have gone a lot differently, and not for the better.

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“It could have went off, if things transpired, if I had been sitting outside just from me to you through the wall from, I don’t know, 3:00, 4:00 that afternoon. Could have went off at any stage,” he said. “So we might not have been having this conversation. That was part of growing up in Northern Ireland before, too, back in those days. But everybody got out and there was nobody hurt or anything and all that sort of stuff.”

Clarke said he was probably 18 or 19 at the time, and got the job to try to make a bit of his own money, because his parents had supported his golf career to that point.

Needles to say, their investment paid off. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on

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