Golf is one of those rare sports that seems to bring athletes from other sports together. Players from all other major sports seem to either already know how to golf, or they learn how to play after retirement. I’ve been around many athletes from outside of golf, and the love for golf seems to be infectious. With so many athletes enjoying this wonderful game of ours, I am curious which sport produces the best golfers?
The athletes that have the most natural ability to swing a golf club are hockey players. We would have quite a few Los Angeles Kings players play as guests at my former club, and they were always able to hit the golf ball incredibly far. It makes sense, because anybody who can strike a moving puck while skating across the ice at high speeds can surely hit a non-moving ball resting on a tee. Besides that, the path of a golf swing is very similar to that of a hockey stick striking the puck.
Baseball players also tend to be pretty good golfers. Much of it is based on the incredibly hand-eye coordination required to hit a baseball. That is not the entire reason, however, because it’s the pitchers that seem to dominate on the links. Some might say that starting pitchers are the best golfers because they only have to pitch every fifth day. That may be true, but I also believe it has to do with their ability to release their arms on the proper path. Pitchers learn to control their grip pressure and tension in their shoulders while pitching, and this can carry over in a positive manner to the golf swing.
Football players, on the other hand, can sometimes struggle at golf. The thickness in their chest and shoulders can make swinging a golf club a challenge. It’s one thing to have strength, but it’s also important to have flexibility. The bigger players struggle with this. The position players that seem to have less struggles are the kickers and the quarterbacks. They are generally not quite as big, and they benefit by generating more flexibility and speed in their swings.
Finally, we come to basketball players. Basketball players can range from under 6’ tall to over 7’ tall. The shorter players typically have an easier time golfing than those that are taller. First off, it’s easier to find golf clubs that are a proper fit for their height. In addition, taller players can struggle more with maintaining balance in their golf swing, thus leading to plenty of inconsistencies.
As with all of us, some athletes just have a more natural ability to properly swing a golf club and hit the ball solidly. I enjoy watching athletes from other sports give golf a shot. Even though some of them find the game much easier than others, they all occasionally share the same frustration of trying to properly strike a ball that isn’t moving.