Men’s Health — ONE OF KENNY CHESNEY’S BREEZIEST songs has the comforting title “Be As You Are.” It’s basically what would happen if you folded up the island of St. John and slipped it into a cassette deck—an acoustic carpe diem about finding an idyllic Caribbean harbor within yourself. This is a nice sentiment, and elements of Chesney’s life mirror the song. He spends an enviable amount of time in the tropics, and even when landlocked he seems to fully embody life in paradise. No man is an island? Tell that to Chesney.
On his epic summer tours, he creates a tiki-bar atmosphere on football fields in places like Indianapolis and Kansas City. He makes 50,000 people think they’re at a tin-roofed beachside canteen that seats nine. He preaches simplicity and oceanside afternoons in songs that hit a demographic sweet spot: folks young enough to feel free and old enough to reminisce about easier times. This recipe has made Chesney really, really popular.
Men’s Health — 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.
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