Thanks to Alice Cooper, golf isn’t just for business executives anymore. The game has quickly become a favorite leisure activity for many rock and country superstars, including well-known Gibson artists like Vince Gill, Tommy Thayer, and Alex Lifeson. When these guitarists aren’t working their magic onstage with wood and steel, they can often be found on the links with a set of woods and irons.

For legendary country artist Vince Gill, golf is more than a pastime. For the 15th consecutive year he has hosted his annual Vinny Pro-Celebrity Invitational, a two-day event that has raised over $3.8 million dollars for junior golf programs throughout Tennessee. At this year’s event, held August 12-13 at the Nashville Golf & Athletic Club in Brentwood, Tennessee, Gill and Senior British Open Champion Tom Watson presented 26 guitars donated by Epiphone to Tennessee’s top junior golfers.

“I started playing Gibson before I could walk,” said Gill as he demonstrated how an Epiphone acoustic could be used as a putter (something we don’t recommend, by the way). “Gibson and Epiphone are great supporters of getting instruments into people’s hands. A lot of these kids may not end up on the PGA tour, but they may wind up like me playing guitar in honky-tonks across America.”

Gill was playing golf at a professional level by the time he entered high school, but he decided to pursue a musical career instead, landing gigs with Ricky Skaggs and Pure Prairie League before he became a successful solo artist. Ironically, he was inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame in 2005, two years before he was inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.

KISS lead guitarist and avid golfer Tommy Thayer also hosts his own celebrity invitational golf match. This year he organized the first-ever Legends Golf Classic, held July 29–30 at Pacific University’s Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course outside of Portland, Oregon. The tournament drew dozens of well-known golfers, athletes, and musicians as participants, who helped raise funds for the university’s athletic department.

During the competition, Thayer came within six feet of scoring a hole-in-one on the 10th hole—an experience that he said was nearly as thrilling as the first time he strapped on a Les Paul and stood on stage with KISS back in 2002. “I played in a lot of tournaments this year, but that was my most memorable moment on the course so far,” said Thayer. “I’m pretty busy with golf, but somehow I’ve got a rock ’n’ roll career, too. This event was staggering.” 

In addition to the golf tournament, the event included a silent auction and a performance by Thayer, former Night Ranger/Damn Yankees frontman Jack Blades, and Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine. One of the highlights at the auction was a Gibson Les Paul signed by all of the members of Aerosmith, which sold for over $3,000.

Although Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson does not sponsor his own celebrity invitational tournament yet, he’s invested more than a passing interest in golf. Lifeson is a part owner of the Coppinwood Golf Club, located 30 miles northeast of Toronto.

"I was talking with a friend who is a successful businessman about how nice it would be to own our own golf club,” says Lifeson. “He must have liked the idea, because he gathered a few investors he knew and went to work on the project without telling me about it. They hired golf course architect Tom Fazio, who has designed some of the most beautiful courses in the world, like Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. When an investor got cold feet during the hockey strike, some shares became available and I bought them. Now, I own a golf club!”

Lifeson is good friends with PGA pro Rocco Mediate, and the two have appeared together on the Golf Channel’s Personal Lessons show. “Rocco told me I could improve my golf game immensely if I could apply the way I think about my guitar playing to my game,” says Lifeson. “It’s a matter of clearing your head, of just doing something instead of thinking about it. That’s my problem with my golf game. I’m always thinking about how I’m going to hit the ball and about how I’m going to swing the club before I do it. When I play guitar, I just play!”