Leonard Finkel provides the second installment of the celebrity interviews at the celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe. In case you missed it, see last month’s Club Champion newsletter for part one here.
Rick Rhoden is and was by far the best golfer on the celebrity circuit. He's probably won more than half of the events he entered and he’s even competed successfully on the PGA Champions Tour. Here's what he had to say about how similarities between baseball and golf and skills are transferable.
"Throwing a baseball, hitting a baseball is very much like hitting a golf ball. Weight transfer and timing are key. Baseball players can usually hit and make contact pretty good. In baseball, you want to keep your weight back and then explode into the ball. It's basically the same thing in golf. If you do it too quickly, you come across the ball and your high and to the right. It's a timing thing and most guys in baseball have pretty good hand-eye coordination. That's why they can pick up golf pretty quickly." said Rhoden.
"The key for me is balance, which is really the key in any sport. To have good balance, you should have yourself under control and that's what this golf game is all about. If you start swinging too hard, your body is moving. That's why I [like to] play without shoes, it keeps my balance and my rhythm pretty much the same. You can't swing hard without shoes on. Try it yourself some time,” Rhoden added.
“That was Sam Snead's big tip. The first thing he always told people was to take off their shoes and let me see you swing. He said if you can't swing without shoes, you're doing something wrong. It feels great walking through the grass; the bunkers get a little hot sometimes, but I try to stay out of that stuff."
Hall of Fame football coach, Lou Holtz is a member of Augusta National and a golf fanatic.
He said, "I think there are certain things about football and golf that are very similar. Number one is the fundamentals in both. Whether you're throwing the football, blocking or tackling, it's the same thing with the swing. We have different swings but there are certain fundamentals that have to be done in the game of golf. I think the mental picture is also very important. Football is more physical but in both, you have to react to adversity. In football, you're going to get knocked down and you have to get up. In golf, you get hurt mentally, not physically. But when you hit a bad shot, what do you do? It's also important to know why you play the game? I play the game for companionship, fun and because it’s you versus the golf course. You can't blame anybody else. It's a game of honor, it's a game of talent and it's also a game of attitude."
Longtime Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and passionate golfer, Ron Jaworski led his team to the Super Bowl. He’s become entrenched in the golf business, owning a number of golf courses.
He relates, “As a quarterback, you're always seeing things on the move; you're seeing things quickly and you have to react to that, throw the ball accurately and anticipate where a receiver is going to be and where the rush is coming from. I look at the game of golf, and it's that same eye-hand coordination. The ball is sitting still on the tee, but you have a club that's whipping down at over 100 miles an hour”.
Jaworski adds, “Through the years, I've always felt I had a bad stance, a bad grip, and a bad swing; but, because I was athletic and had that coordination, I could square that clubface at contact. In the last two years, I've been playing Natural Golf and my swing has become more repetitive, I'm getting that clubface more square and my scores are better."
Super Bowl champ, Joe Theismann says, "I think there are two things that I've been able to take from the world of football into golf. The first part is mechanics. To throw the ball effectively, you have to be balanced and you have to transfer weight from your right side to your left side and square up your shoulders with your belly button to the target. That's very similar to what you're trying to do on the golf course. The other part is the mental part of the game. As a quarterback, more than any other position, you have bad things happen and you just have to ignore them and move forward and really play for the moment you're in instead of the one that has just passed. Those two things are probably the aids that I found in football that help me in golf."
It seems that all the quarterbacks I interviewed really focus on the mental comparisons between golf and football. Redskins Super Bowl champion, Mark Rypien said, "There are a lot of analogies between golf and football, especially at the quarterback position. After a bad series, you might have on the field or you throw a bad pass or have an interception; when adversity strikes, your ability to come back from that also parlays itself on the golf course. You hit a bad shot and what do you do when that happens? Obviously, in golf, you're not going hit a good shot all the time and in football, you're not always going to throw to the correct receiver all the time or make the right decision all the time. Your ability to bounce back from any adversity that might happen on the football field or the golf course separates the ones that are successful at both.”
Everybody knows about Charles Barkley's struggles with the golf swing. When asked how basketball skills translate to golf, Sir Charles had this to say, "That's an interesting question. I've never been asked that before. I think shooting would be most similar. A great jump shooter would be similar to a great golf swing. I'm not really sure you can compare the sports because [in golf] you have tall guys, you have short guys, skinny guys, fat guys; and they all can develop some type of golf swing. They can be good and develop it, but they can't play any other sport. So, I'm not sure it's fair to compare."