When Tiger Woods burst on to the scene in the late 1990’s he transcended the sport in so many different ways. One of those ways was making golf an ‘athletic sport’. This meant that more professional golfers started going to the gym because they wanted the power that Woods’ was fashioning.
This also meant that more and more athletes wanted to play the game because it became so fun to watch a young athlete like Woods on TV winning tournaments by astronomical numbers.
The game is starting to reap the benefits of the Tiger effect today, three of the four majors won in 2017 were captured by players under the age of 28.
“It’s a new game now,” Woods said at the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational. “That’s what I’ve been alluding to all these years. We are finally getting athletes, guys who can dunk, guys who could have played baseball or football at the [college Division I] level. Now, with all that speed and power and fast-twitch [muscles], they’re playing golf. I don’t have the gears that those guys do.”
Since the times of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, the world hasn’t seen too many athletes cross over into different sports. Especially from golf to another professional venue. One athlete that will cross over to another sport is Conor McGregor when he trades in an octagon for a boxing ring to take on the undefeated Floyd Mayweather.
Wake up Floyd. It's all over. pic.twitter.com/XfssL4HrjV
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 21, 2017
This begs the question, who are some golfers from the present and the past who had the ability to switch over to another sport? Spoiler alert: Woods didn’t make the cut.
Woods doesn’t dabble in other sports like some of the guys on the PGA Tour do, he was even ribbed by Michael Jordan once when Jordan said this about his basketball skills: “He’s a black guy who can’t play basketball.” Woods laughed and responded with: “Well, I think that’s the half-Asian in me.”
Here are the guys who did cross over into other sports while on the PGA Tour:
Lefty once tried to play baseball. He had a chance to ‘try-out’ for the Toledo Mud Hens minor league baseball team back in 2003, and it’s a little ironic that Lefty tried out as a right-handed pitcher (he batted left-handed).
This isn’t all that shocking because he has the look of a baseball player. Mickelson is not the most athletic guy out there but he does look like he would make a good four, five, or six-hole hitter in a baseball lineup. The flowing hair and sweet swing from the left side are nice touches as well.
Mickelson actually used to play catch with his old caddy Bones Mackay before playing golf. This helped loosen up his shoulders and rotator cuff.
The 2017 Masters champion grew up wanting to be a professional soccer player. He finally got to live out that dream in 2010 when he logged eight minutes on the field for the Spanish Third Division team Borriol.
How did he get the chance to play in a professional game? Simple, he bought the team and became the club’s president.
There weren’t many things Arnold Palmer wasn’t good at. When he wasn’t competing on the golf course he would go dominate the bowling lanes and the pool table. Palmer went on national television twice to showcase his talents. In 1977 he hit the lanes with fellow PGA Tour pro, Ray Floyd, as the two teamed up to play football stars, Jim Brown and Jim Taylor. Palmer and Floyd would lose the match by six pins.
Palmer did earn a victory on the pool table against Jackie Gelson, who was known for his ability with the cue stick. After his victory Palmer admitted there was only one thing Gleason could beat him in:
“I could beat [Gleason] at pool, golf, whatever,” Palmer told Golf Magazine in 2010. “The only thing he could beat me at was drinking.”
Kim’s dream to play basketball in a professional setting came true in 2010 when he participated in the NBA All-Star weekend’s celebrity game in 2010.
The three-time winner on Tour used to play a lot of basketball when he grew up in LA but it was his dad who steered him to the links.
“Do you know how parents are always telling their kids they can be the president?” Kim said. “My dad was pretty straightforward: ‘You are not going to be the president. You are not going to make it to the [NBA]. What you can do is play golf.’ “