Boston’s Most Memorable Athletes and the Golf Connection
Golf requires hand-eye coordination, stamina, and physical prowess, but how does it relate to other sports? Some of Boston’s most memorable athletes give their views on the connection and comparisons between golf and their primary athletic endeavors.
Rico Petrocelli broke in with the Red Sox in 1963 and hit 210 homers in a 13-year big league career, all with Boston. He relates, “It’s really tough to move from a baseball swing to a golf swing. I was told to stay inside the ball. To me, that was like an inside-outside swing in baseball, trying to hit the ball to right field.
“The real thrill is trying to get the ball to the hole. It’s always been like coming up to bat with a man on base.”
Drafted by the New England Patriots out of the University of Maryland in 1991, quarterback Scott Zolak also played for the Jets and Dolphins until 1999. He was known as much for his personality as his passing prowess. He brings this animated style to the golf course.
“There is nothing like seeing Joe Weekend Guy with 2 gloves on, taking swings, getting out a viewfinder, taking more swings, and then shanking his shot,” says the Patriots’ radio analyst on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “I love hitting into that group. That’s how they know to get moving.”
Similarly, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, former Red Sox slugger and current White Sox broadcasting legend, took his split personality to the golf course. “Many times I’d be in a baseball game and would say to myself, ‘Ken, get out of the Hawk’s way and let him go.’
“At golf tournaments, Hawk might yell to the fans for support before making a big putt, but that’s the Hawk. He can do things that Ken can’t do.”
NFL and Patriots’ Hall of Famer Andre Tippett compares golf to the sport that made him an immortal. “My high school football coach used to tell me that I was a good listener and learner. I implemented that process to learn golf, starting from the short game out.
“In football, you can’t jump offsides, take a stupid penalty, or a late hit with the game on the line. It really has nothing to do with strength and everything to do with mechanics. You have to load up, stay behind the ball, and really work on your timing.”
After an 11-year NHL career with the Flyers, Penguins, Devils, Bruins and Jets, NESN Bruins’ analyst Andy Brickley knows a thing or two about mechanics and timing. “You have to have that core strength in the middle of the body. Balance when addressing the ball or puck is also crucial.
“It takes a tremendous grind to be the victor in both hockey and golf. You have to have a mental tenacity. In hockey, you can rely on teammates, and anger sometimes works. With golf, you are alone, and you can’t throw your bag into the crowd or knock down an opponent.”
Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who recently signed a new 4-year, $17 million contract with the team, compares the mental nature of golf and kicking. “If you’re confident about your shot, you will hit a good shot. The same goes for kicking.
“It’s fun to clear your mind and just hit a great shot or a birdie to win a dollar off of your buddy. Mentally and with regard to controlling your nerves, golf and kicking are similar. Just thinking of the shot and not the consequences of the shot is the key.”
John Molori is the co-author of “The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball’s Prized Players.” Like him on Facebook at John Molori, Twitter @MoloriMedia. Email firstname.lastname@example.org