ABOUT A BALL: If you ever find yourself at New York's Piping Rock Club, you might run into a British banker named James Grant and his little brother, a golf-crazy actor named Hugh. A relative newcomer to the game, Hugh Grant plays every chance he gets. The About a Boy star sharpened his game at London's fabled Knightsbridge Golf School but almost quit long ago when he injured a testicle during a round. "I got a terrible pain," he told a reporter. "It's a syndrome I now call 'golf ball.'"
GRAPHITE SHAFT? Memphis's legendary Stax Records shut its doors twenty-seven years ago, but thanks in large part to songwriter and producer David Porter ("Soul Man", "Hold On, I'm Coming"), its legacy lives on through the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. To raise funds, Porter staged the first Stax Celebrity Classic in April at Spring Creek Ranch near Memphis. Isaac "Shaft" Hayes cochaired the event, which Loren Roberts and Julius Erving attended. While splitting cochair duties with Mavis Staples, Hayes hit a few balls on the range. "Isaac and I used to write songs in the evening and beat balls during the day," says ten-handicapper Porter, "but now he's really got the bug. He's taking lessons and joining Spring Creek."
FALK SQUAWK: Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, who cohosts ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, belongs to the same club—Four Streams in Maryland—as sports superagent David Falk, whom he often rips in print and on the air. Lately the two have engaged in some verbal sparring that left them sounding like boxing promoters. "I see him there from time to time, and it's not pleasant," says Kornheiser, a bogey golfer. Falk, who advises Michael Jordan and other sports celebs, says he has asked Kornheiser to play numerous times but keeps getting rebuffed. For his part, Kornheiser says, "I have, like, six jobs. Why would I spend what little free time I have with him?" Falk, a ten-handicapper who may have picked up trash-talking from his basketball clients, replies: "I told him, 'I know I'm better, you know I'm better, and I want everyone in town to know.'"
TAP-INS: Saxophonist Clarence Clemons, famed for backing Bruce Springsteen, has returned to the fairways near his South Florida home after hip and eye surgery. "When the golf bug bites, you can't resist," says the big man. "When you catch one flush, the vibration runs through your whole body and into your soul." . . . Hootie & the Blowfish's annual Monday after the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Myrtle Beach coincided with the release of their first new tunes in four years, time the band spent "starting families and lowering our handicaps," says lead singer Darius Rucker. . . . For July's American Century Championship in Stateline, Nevada, NBC Sports invited actresses Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julianne Moore. That fetching foursome passed, but the event still boasts a strong cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon, Troy Aikman, NBA star Jerry Stackhouse and Notre Dame football coach Tyrone Willingham. Occasional golfer Moore, meanwhile, has been spotted at New York's Hudson National and would make (hint hint) a fine addition to VH-1's next Fairway to Heaven event.