Q&A with Dragon's Den supremo Peter Jones
When he’s not interrogating
would-be entrepreneurs in the
Den, Peter Jones loves nothing
more than a round of golf. And
he’s pretty useful, too
Gi: Where and when were you first
introduced to the game?
PJ: I have always been interested in all sports
since a very young age, mainly rugby and
especially tennis – but also golf while I was
still a teenager. Coupled with the interest in
sport, I have always been extremely competitive,
so the first time I picked up a club I
wanted to win. But golf is so frustrating. I can
be good one day and just plain terrible the
next! Admittedly, when I was younger, I was
more of a ‘hacker’ to begin with rather than a
measured and considered golfer but later in
life, through my work, I developed my game
playing as part of developing my business
contacts. I now play regularly when I am on
holiday in Portugal and Barbados, but not so
much at other times. I can’t wait for the day I
play two rounds well, back-to-back!
What's your current handicap and what are
the main strengths of your game?
I play off 12 these days but I was playing off 9
not so long ago when I was playing more regularly.
I have a decent drive, but my short game
lets me down, especially my putting. I think
confidence is still a golfer’s greatest strength
when you address the ball – you have to think
like a winner, otherwise you can defeat yourself
in golf more so than any other sport.
Over confidence! Seriously, there is a thin line
between feeling like a winner and having a
nightmare. I always have a lot running through
my mind, so if I lose concentration then my
game is affected just like anybody elses.
What is your favourite golf course?
I’m lucky to have played lots of amazing
courses as a result of invitations to corporate
and charity golf events, and the West Course
at Wentworth springs to mind as a contender.
But, for me, it’s not just the course alone that
makes a memorable round – the course, the
location and the weather are all vital. For that
reason, I choose The Green Monkey in
Barbados – it’s amazing!
What would be your perfect golfing vacation?
It’s such a precious opportunity to get some
quality time with my friends that I particularly
love playing golf on holiday – and the double
bonus is that when the round’s over, I get to
spend time with my family as well! I know
some people might say a round or two at
Augusta with Tiger as your caddy – and that
would be very appealing. But I’ll stick to golfing
while on a family holiday with my best friends.
Where in the world would you most like to
play that you haven’t yet?
I’m going to say Augusta. We recently had a
charity golf day for my Foundation, raising
money for Forgotten Children and the
National Enterprise Academy. It was a perfect
day at Hampton Park Golf Course – somewhere
I’ve never played before, where the
deer know no fear – and we gave away an all
expenses paid trip to Augusta in an auction. I
was very tempted to bid myself, but it was a
hot lot and there were many more eager bidders
What piece of golfing technology has most
helped your game in recent years?
The golf buggy!
Who is your favourite player?
It’s difficult to single out one player. If
pressed I would say Jack Nicklaus for his
sheer and consistent winning brilliance.
There’s a quote of his I made a note of that
he is reported to have said: “I never went into
a tournament or round of golf thinking I had
to beat a certain player. I had to beat the golf
course. If I prepared myself for a major, went
in focused, and then beat the golf course, the
rest took care of itself.” What a great mindset!
A dream fourball – name the three people
you would invite?
US President Obama, Tiger Woods and my
father, David. What a great day out!
What's your favourite gadget?
I love my Apple iPhone, and I can play golf on it!
If you could change one Rule of Golf, what
would it be?
I’m not sure what I would change but I do like
the rule…“All players shall conduct themselves
in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy
and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective
of how competitive they may be. This is the
spirit of the game of golf.” I have some golfing
buddies who should remind themselves of this!
What is the single best round of golf you
have ever played?
It was at Quinta do Lago in Portugal and I was
3 over Gross. I got a 75. I told everyone!
Who do you admire most in your own field?
For the purposes of answering this, I’ll limit
my “field” to “UK entrepreneurs”. I had an
encounter with Sir Alan Sugar recently at a
meeting about enterprise and encouraging
entrepreneurship among young people – a
real passion of mine. I have met Sir Alan several
times but this was the first time we had had a formal business meeting. I have to say,
for me, he is definitely not fired! He was very
impressive, and I was delighted and surprised
that we had a lot of views in common about
enterprise education and the need to develop
the skills of tomorrow’s business leaders to
rebuild the UK’s and the global economies.
Who do you admire most outside your field?
I admire anyone who has a dream and has the
dedication and commitment to make it a reality.
I meet a lot of young people through my
work with the National Enterprise Academy,
and I am always blown away by their energy,
ambition and ideas. I admire many of the
young people I meet because the vast majority
do not conform to the stereotypes we read
about in the media, and they really want to
succeed and make a positive difference to
their own lives and the lives of others.
How many golfing inventions failed to make
the cut on Dragon's Den?
Funnily enough, golf has not been a significant
topic in the Den for inventions or business
ideas. We did have a chap who had
adapted a golfer’s glove as way of reminding
driver’s which side of the road to drive on
when abroad…so you simply put the glove on
the hand that corresponds with the left or
right side of the road as a reminder. But of
course if you can remember to do that, then
you don’t really need the glove! Needless to
say, he didn’t get the investment.
Do any of the other Dragons play golf?
Theo does, and I believe Duncan does as well.
I’m not sure about Deborah or James, though.
What has been your single best investment
to date as a result of the program?
Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Sauce has been a
phenomenal success, and I know for sure it
hasn’t peaked yet. From the original sauce,
which I helped Levi to launch in Sainsbury’s
after he appeared on the show, my team has
worked with him to develop a whole Caribbean
food range. There are some amazing new products
to come – so watch this space. But, the
products aside, the success is really down to
Levi and that fact that he is such a charismatic
walking, talking (and singing) brand.
With so much going on, do you find that it's
tough to concentrate for 18 holes or do you
find golf offers a good way of switching off?
I can get distracted if something big is happening
in my companies but I find that by the time
you reach the back nine, everything just goes
on pause until the final winning putt is made!
How big a part can golf play in helping you
make a brighter future for kids through the
Peter Jones Foundation?
A big part, and we started in earnest this
year with the first ever Enterprise Golf
Challenge, which was an amazing charity
event to raise funds for my Foundation. We
had a great day, backed by many business
people and companies. It is the start of a
year of ‘Enterprise Challenge’ events which
will raise money that will be used to make a
difference to the lives of many children. If
anyone is interested in finding out more
about this event in particular, or they would
like to contact my team to get involved in
future events, they should log on to:
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine