COOPER FIRST took up golf more than 30 years ago, when he was trying to give up his life as "the most functional alcoholic on the planet," who never missed a show and "never slurred a word" onstage. "I have a totally addictive personality, [and] this game feeds itself," he says. "I would hit bad shot, bad shot, bad shot … great shot - right down the middle, and it was perfect. And I would say, 'I want to feel that again.' Bad shot, bad shot, bad shot, great shot. Then I would realize I want to hit more great shots because I want that buzz."

At the time, it wouldn't have done much for Alice's hard-rocking image to be outed as a golfer. "In the beginning, I had to be a closet golfer," he admits. But as he and other rockers, including Lou Reed, played on, things changed. "We basically hijacked this game," says Cooper.

His early golf obsession hasn't let up. He plays at least five days a week. Actually, there are few activities Cooper signs on for that he doesn't go at whole hog. He sleeps just four hours a night, and in addition to devoting time to his music, the radio show, golf, his family, and his hard-core shopping habit, Cooper runs the Christian-based Solid Rock Foundation, which is dedicated to helping Phoenix kids stay out of trouble.

I CONNECT with the ball after my backswing, and it's a glorious moment. The ball sails out, as Cooper says, "100 yards down the middle, with a little hook on it.

"I can tell already you're going to be addicted," he adds. "Very few people can take a backswing and hit the ball [on their first time out]."

But, now that he’s confident that I’m hooked (and, somehow, I think it actually matters to him that I fell for his game of choice), Cooper has to leave. Ozzy is waiting. Yes, that Ozzy. Coop — now he’s Coop to me — has to cut through local traffic to record another conversation with Ozzy for his radio show. (“I told my producer, ‘You’ve got to give me at least a couple seconds’ delay so I can decipher what he’s saying,’?” he says.)

So Coop the golfer changes back into the “Prince of Darkness” — maybe he’ll do a little sword sharpening later on. After all, a new tour’s about to begin. The dolls await.