In this third and final part of our series of articles, we take a look at some sports stars who have gained their fame in other fields, but who love nothing more than a round of golf in their spare time. In addition, we take a look at some other famous (or notorious!) people who have also fell in love with the allure of golf.
Soccer: The list of soccer stars who play golf is almost endless and indeed so many football stars head to the fairways after training that in 2013, the first World Golf Championships for Footballers will be held in Marbella, Spain.
Already rumoured to be participating are Gary Lineker, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Donadoni, Gianfranco Zola, Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Gabriel Batistuta, Peter Schemeichel and Steve Staunton, with Josep Guardiola and Guus Hiddink also said to be taking part.
Some of football’s better golfers include Michael Owen, Jamie Redknapp and former Liverpool defender turned TV Pundit Alan Hansen who as a youngster had a scratch handicap and even considered a professional career as a golfer before football took over.
Carlos Tevez (light blue cap, below) of Manchester City and Argentina is another avid fan, who played plenty of golf on his self-impsed exile from his club last season and even caddied on the final round for compatriot Andres Romero in the 2012 British Open.
Tennis: American Top ten player Mardy Fish is arguably the best Tennis professional golfer of the bunch, playing off a scratch handicap of zero. Also known to be an excellent golfer is seven times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras who has a handicap of around 1 and Andy Murray’s coach and former US Open Champion Ivan Lendl, who plays from a handicap of 2.
Spanish ace Rafael Nadal is a close friend of Spanish tour pro Sergio Garcia and plays off a handicap of nine and is a keen golfer with rival and former World Number one, Serbian ace Novak Djokovic (see video below), while Australian legend Rod Laver is thought to have a handicap of 10.
NFL: Some of the biggest NFL superstars are amongst the most avid golfers in the world and arguably the best of them all is much-criticised Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (see video below), who is a scratch handicap player and who has won several Pro-Am tournaments and there are many who feel Romo may be the best golfer who is a professional in another sport playing the game today.
He’s got some stiff competition though if the NFL ever organise their own golfing tournament with the likes of Tennessee Titans punter Craig Hentrich, legend wide receiver Jerry Rice also playing off scratch, while the likes of John Elway, Brett Favre, Marc Bulger and Dan Marino all have handicaps around the 2 mark.
Other famous NFL stars who enjoy playing include Drew Brees (3), Ben Roethlisberger (3), Matt Ryan (3.7), Peyton Manning (4.6), Carson Palmer (7), Matt Schaub (7), Tom Brady (8) and Aaron Rodgers (8.1).
Boxers: It may seem surprising to some but many boxers are also keen on the more sedate pasttime of golf. Oscar De La Hoya is one of the best golfing boxers with a handicap of around 7 while from another era, Sugar Ray Leonard is known to be a keen member of Rivera GC in Los Angeles playing from a handicap of 16.
Arguably the finest fighter in the world today, pound for pound, Phillippino Manny Pacquiao is a keen beginner, playing off a handicap of 26 and he hopes to one day own a course in his homeland and already hosts his own Pro-Am tournament (see below). Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell is another beginner who plays off a 33 handicap.
There are of course many sporting megastars, whose fame transcends their sport, who are also keen golfer.
Michael Phelps – The World Record breaking Olympian is an avid golfer as a quick look at his Facebook page can attest to, where there are few pictures of his swimming achievements and plenty from his golf exploits.
Phelps played at the recent Dunhill Links Pro-Am and stunned himself and the world of golf by holing an incredible 159 foot putt at the Kingsbairns course (below).
Michael Jordan – Without doubt, Michael Jordan is the name in Basketball for many and the former Chicago Bulls star and focal point of the famous US Olympic Dream team is an avid golfer playing from a handicap of three.
Jordan is a regular participant in many Pro-Am events across the US and even hosts his own Celebrity Invitational event at the Shadow Creek Golf course in Las Vegas, which acts as a fundraiser for charity. Participants in recent years have included the likes of Bill Clinton, Samuel Jackson, Jamie Foxx, John McEnroe, David Duchovny, Boris Becker, Ronald “Winky” Wright, Ashton Kucher and Leanne Rimes.
Wayne Gretzky – The former Canadian Ice Hockey legend is an avid golfer who has received plenty of help and tuition from Canadian pro Mike Weir. Gretzky is unusual in that he plays the game right handed, though he played hockey left handed – this being due to learning the game with a set of right handed clubs as a youngster. “I don’t have the time or energy to switch at this point, so the game never came easy to me,” he laments.
And if you are wondering if sporting stars can get as good as the pro’s, have a look at former NFL star turned TV pundit Marshall Faulk’s tee shot at this Par 3 at Lake Tahoe in 2009!
Images courtesy of Michael Phelps Facebook Page & Golf Digest Magazine