Pro Athletes, Scratch Golfers

Michael Jordan on the Golf Course

Michael Jordan on the Golf Course

A few months ago I wondered do golfers golf on their days off. Now I’m wondering about other athletes. How many of them golf during their off seasons or after their career is over? We all know the obvious – Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Rick Rhoden. But we always hear about some football or baseball star who also happens to be a scratch golfer. Is it just me or is that insane? To be able to play your sport at the highest level and in your spare time just happen to be a great golfer also? Amazing. At this point I would be happy to be just a halfway decent golfer!

While there have been no recent two-sport stars involving golf, looking at the latest Golf Digest list of top athlete golfers, there are a few guys out there who would have a legitimate shot if it weren’t for golf’s Thursday-Sunday tournaments schedule interfering with their sports schedule. Most would have to wait for their career to be over or cut their careers short as Robin Yount almost did back in 1978. For those who didn’t know, two-time MVP and MLB Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount actually quit baseball back in the spring of ’78 to pursue a career as a professional golfer. The experiment failed and Yount was back with the Milwaukee Brewers a few months later. But how good do you have to be to quit an H.O.F. baseball career to pursue golf full-time?

Looking at the aforementioned list, I’m amazed at some of the names and numbers I see. Right off the bat, #1 ranked Tony Romo, QB for the Dallas Cowboys, has a handicap of +3.3 and won two tournaments in his off-season! As a matter of fact, the top five athletes on the list – Romo, Craig Hentrich, Mark McGwire, Mike Schmidt and Jerry Rice – all have handicaps better than scratch! Now I can see how the latter three have time to work on their games as they are all retired now. But Romo and Hentrich are active NFL players! Do they have that kind of time to get this good?

Scanning through some of the other names, I see that pitcher Livan Hernandez is actually considering golf as a second career after baseball. Although the only info I can find linking Hernandez to golf is when he pulled some golf clubs out of his trunk and attempted to hit a 65-year old man with them. Whether or not that’s the case. he’s still a scratch golfer.

How about Boston Bruin Marc Savard? He missed qualifying for the 2008 Canadian Open by one stroke. He could have been a real-life Happy Gilmore! Except a better hockey player.

Boston Celtics star Ray Allen is apparently the best golfer in the NBA. Although New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul isn’t far behind.

There must be something in the water in Minnesota. Twins teamates Joe Mauer, Nick Punto and Joe Nathan are all on the list. They could roundout a foursome with their choice of former Twins stars Harmon Killebrew or Rod Carew who find themselves ranked also.

Apparently Reggie Jackson plays five days a week. Must be nice…

Should I be surprised to see Bo Jackson’s name on this list? A guy who was an All-Star in MLB and Pro-Bowler in the NFL until an injury cut both careers short, has a handicap under ten. I should mention he’s also a banker and business owner in Illinois. I guess Bo really does know a whole bunch of stuff!

Some time ago, a stinky golfer told me he believes as long as a person has at least a pretty good bit of athletic ability to them, they can be a good golfer. I agree with him. Golf doesn’t necessarily require a person to be in top physical condition, however it does require a certain amount of coordination and athletic ability. Some people have to work hard to be good athletes while some others have the gift of a natural ability. Most of the athletes on the list possess that gift. This is what allows them to excel at multiple sports (maybe even professionally) while most of us work hard just to be average at one. I’m comfortable with that, but what I wouldn’t give to stand at a podium one day and say: “It was a tough eighteen. All of the competition was great. I’m just glad I could hold everyone else off at the end. Now I have to run. I’m starting the back end of a double-header tomorrow night.”


  1. How about a 5K Nassau with Tiger, Charles, and Michael. Tiger would have to give 6 or 7 to Michael and 36 to Charles plus several Vegas phone numbers.

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