The Cream of the Crop: Athletes who golf

The Cream of the Crop: Athletes who golf

Golf has long been a sport widely played by athletes, and often encouraged by managers. The sport not only requires physical abilities, but also teaches mental attributes usually beneficial for their own industry.

Aside from the crazy incident of Craig Bellamy trying to end John Arne Riise’s career using a golf club, here are some athletes who use the stick for a more traditional purpose.

Joseph Schooling: Singapore’s first Olympic Gold Medalist

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One who needs no introductions to Singaporeans, Joseph Schooling is in fact an above average golfer. The Tanah Merah Country Club member is a nine handicapper, and has a golf coach familiar to many elite golfers in Singapore – Kim Baldwin.

“I have been coaching kids for long, And I must say he was among the better students, easily picking up the pointers because of his tremendous natural ability,” said the Australian.

Schooling often participates in charity golf events to raise funds for foundations in Singapore and is often seen enjoying the sport with his father, Colin Schooling, at both Sentosa Golf Club and Tanah Merah Country Club.

Michael Phelps: 28-times Olympic Medalist

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Who knew that Michael Phelps could golf? He’s not the greatest with his handicap of 12 but just as he did for his 28 Olympic medals, he’ll work hard to improve his game.

Phelps demonstrated his commitment by taking lessons from Hank Haney, the coach of Tiger Woods, in an attempt to bring down his handicap to single digits. He was also spotted spectating in the crowd behind Woods during the Masters.

Maybe the presence of the former Olympic champion brought him some good luck as Woods went on to attain the 15th major victory of his career. If that’s the case, then having Phelps, helps.

Steph Curry: Twice NBA MVP, Thrice NBA Champion

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Being a pro in two different sports seems to be no problem for Steph Curry. It seems as though the Golden State Warriors guard wants to pursue a professional golfing career when he participated in the Ellie Mae Classic of the Web.com Tour last year.

Curry has been a 70s-shooting golfer since he was the No. 1 player at Charlotte Christian as a high school senior, and has played golf with former U.S President Barack Obama. Curry’s abilities on the golf course definitely readies him to join the minor golf tours once his NBA career is over. Curry plays off to a handicap of 0.

Rafael Nadal: 17-Time Tennis Grand Slam Champion

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The Spanish Tennis player boasts an impressive handicap of 1.5, which is considered to be acceptable by the standards of some professionals. The world No. 2 in tennis was also second in the Balearic Islands Golf Championship in February 2019.

It is clear that the 17-time Grand Slam winner loves golf because it is something that he excels in. Last year, he hosted his own golf invitational, the Rafa Nadal Golf Challenge, and unsurprisingly, his team won.

In an essay that he wrote about his searing passion in 2011, he said, “From start to finish, I barely say a word to my rivals; I certainly don’t compliment them on a good shot. They say I’m more aggressive even than I am on the tennis court.”

Ray Allen: 10 Times NBA All Star, Twice NBA Champion

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A hole-in-one is a feat that is difficult to achieve and is what every golfer dream of getting at least once in their lives.

However, to do it four times is absolute madness but that is exactly what the basketball legend, Ray Allen, did. He was renowned for his three-pointers but is now known for his golfing skills.

He hosts an annual celebrity golf game directly benefitting the Miami-Dade County education. Allen plays off a handicap of 0, and also competed against Steph Curry in the round with Barack Obama.

Gareth Bale: Real Madrid Footballer, La Liga Champion, Four Times UEFA Champions League Winner

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Welsh Wizard on the wings and master on the greens, Gareth Bale is a fanatic about golf and has even built a replica of three of his favourite courses in his own backyard; the Royal Troon’s 8th (also known as ‘postage stamp’), the challenging 17th of Sawgrass, and the 12th hole in Augusta. Off the football pitch, Bale can be found practising his strokes as he attempts to improve his five handicap.

However, his love for the sport is seen as an unnecessary obsession by the media as they believe that Bale’s frequent injuries are a result of excessive golfing.

Recently, it was alleged that Bale said, ‘I would play golf if I had to’ when telling his teammates that he is not keen on moving to another club unless Real Madrid buy him out of his contract.

Wayne Rooney: D.C. United Footballer, 5 Times Premier League Champions (Manchester United)

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It’s not every day that you get credit for helping a professional golfer win a tournament. Nonetheless, Wayne Rooney inspired his fellow Englishman, Rory McIlroy, by teaching him a tip that he had used for football.

McIlroy said, “We’re talking about triggers and how do you start your putting stroke – everyone has different ways to start their swings or strokes. And I said Rooney, before he hits a free-kick or before he hits a penalty, he taps his toe on the ground before he actually starts his run-up.”

McIlroy went on to play one of his best putting games in his career to win at Bay Hill last year, his first win in 18 months. Rooney may not be winning those tournaments but isn’t any less of a golfer as he’s been ingrained in golf since he was young.

He, like many other golf-loving athletes, has putting greens at his home so that he can improve his short game and lower his current handicap of 16.

Jimmy Bullard: Former Footballer, TV Pundit, TV Host

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Upon retiring, the former Premier League midfielder attempted to compete professionally at the European Tour stating that he wants to “ – be known as a golfer as opposed to a former footballer. I just want a bit of recognition and to prove to myself I can play golf as a professional and win some money at the same time.”

Unfortunately for the affable Bullard, his hopes hadn’t materialised, and things didn’t go according to plan when he did not make the final qualifying round. But despite not making success on a professional level, he can take pride in knowing that he has a +1 handicap and is on par with some of the best professional golfers.

Andriy Shevchenko: Ballon D’Or winner, 342 goals in career

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Andriy Shevchenko was livid about golf. He lives in a house that resides on Wentworth Golf Course and even his wedding was held on a golf course.

The Ukrainian took his hobby to the next level when he began his golfing career in 2013. He took part in the Kharkov Superior Cup for his very first professional golf competition and although he did not perform too well by going 40 shots off par, he showed that it is possible for sportsmen to embrace the many different sports apart from their own.

Michael Jordan: 6 Times NBA Champion, G.O.A.T

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The best of his generation, and possibly all time. Now retired, Jordan has joined a number of athletes to pursue golf as a hobby, something that started for him when he was in college. He tagged along on his roommate’s trip to the golf course and it was love at first sight.

The six-time NBA champion practically spent every moment outside of basketball on the golf course, he got married on one as well. He’s even been known to place huge bets on golf games and once lost more than a million dollars to his friend after losing to him over a 10-day competition.

His initial liking for the game has blossomed into an intense passion as he hosts the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational yearly to showcase his golfing skills.

With his current 1 handicap, it is fair to assume that he’s deserved the right to be considered one of the best non-professional golfers out there.

Charles Barkley: NBA MVP, 11-Time NBA All Star, T.N.T. Host

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Unlike the other golfers on this list who are competitive about their approach to golf, Barkley is a breath of fresh air as he doesn’t take the game too seriously.

He’s well-known for his hilarious method of swinging where he abruptly stops mid-swing and continues it after a short pause. No one seems to understand why he can’t stop doing that swing as many have tried but failed to rectify his terrible game.

Ultimately, he’s indifferent to the fact that he’s bad at golf and simply says, “It’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world, sucking at golf.” He simply enjoys golf for its recreational value, and it poses an opportunity for him to just unwind with a cigar in his mouth as he does his odd swing.

Perhaps Charles Barkley is the best out of this list because while he may not be the best in terms of golfing skills, he sure knows how to have fun. You do you, Chuck.

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