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Do Professional Athletes Make Better Golfers?

Ahhh…professional athletes.  We watch them on the fields, courts, and a variety of other surfaces week after week and gawk at their amazing skill, heavy pockets, sports cars, and the ability to do or buy anything they want.  We watch them rise to the top of their sport while we sit on the couch eating our chips and doing 12 ounce curls wondering what it would feel like to be so superior in one sport.  One sport….

Then, one day, we sit down to watch a little golf only to see Tony Romo.  What the?!?!  Four plus weeks off or not, as a Cowboys fan, I’m thinking he should still be reviewing films!  Then, we see RODGAS!  What is it with these people?!  Did they stand in the ‘athletically gifted’ line twice?  I don’t think I made it through the line once!

As I delve into the lists of athletes who have so gracefully transitioned from their ‘main’ sport to golf, I can’t help but wonder, is there a correlation between one sport and golf?   A number of MLB players make the list but ironically, most of them are pitchers, not the big hitters, with the exception of Mark McGuire.  But take a look at the list of athletes who’s game on the links, is almost as impressive as on the field -

MLB:

Mike Schmidt (+1.1), Livan Hernandez (0), Nick Punto (2.3), Adam Wainwright (2.5), Kyle Lohse (2.9), Derek Lowe (3) and let’s not forget John Smoltz who tried to qualify for the US Open in 2010/11 and also tried his luck on the Nationwide Tour.

NFL:

Tony Romo (+3.3) tried to qualify for the US Open, Jerry Rice (+.7), John  Elway (1), Brett Favre (1),  Derek Anderson (2.8) and Drew Brees (3)

NHL:

Brett Hull (0), John-Michael Liles (.8), Jamie Langenbrunner (.8), and Wayne Gretzky (10) ok, so he’s a 10, but he’s The Great One.

NBA:

Michael Jordan (1.4)

Now, not to be outdone by the men, there are a couple of women who made quite an impression with their golf game as well.  Althea Gibson who was a tennis pro before there was even a tour and Babe Didrikson Zaharias who not only transitioned from one sport but two (basketball and track and field) to become one of the LPGAs top  players of all time with 41 wins including 10 majors.

So, the question lingers, does a good athlete make a good golfer?  In my opinion, no.  It certainly helps, but there is a pressure on the PGA/LPGA tour that most of these athletes underestimate.  Just ask Smoltz.  Unless you are Rickie Fowler, who’s had two professional careers before he was even out of diapers, very few athletes will successfully make a 2nd profession on tour. And for the rest of us, we can find comfort in the athletes who never fail to make us feel human about our golf game again and for that Sir Charles Barkley, we thank you.