Q&A with Mike Greenberg

July 2008

MIKE GREENBERG, 40, is an anchor for ESPN and hosts a talk show on ESPN Radio, "Mike & Mike in the Morning" with his partner, Mike Golic. He is a member of Rolling Hills Country Club in Connecticut and according to the Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN) he recently shot a 96, 94 and 98.

What was your first memory of golf?
I would say my first golf memory was asking who Arnold Palmer was when he was always on the Pennzoil commercials. When I was a little kid I watched a lot of sports, but I didn't watch a lot of golf, and this guy was always on a tractor. I remember asking who he was, and they said he was a golfer.

What kind of golfer are you?
My USGA Index is 17.5. My goal this season is to get that down to 15, which is a big move, but I got it down from 19.6 at the beginning of last season. I'm just starting the season this year. My one complaint with my father as a parent is that, not only was he not a golfer, but also he was sort of opposed to golf. I was a country club kid growing up. I should have played golf, but my father thought golf was a sport for old men. Not only did he not encourage me to play golf as a kid, but also he discouraged me. I didn't pick up golf until my late 20s, so as a consequence I'm not very good at it, and I find that endlessly frustrating. I list that, and sticking me as a fan of the Jets, as my two biggest complaints with my father. Some day my dream in life is to break 80. If I could list the things I would like to accomplish before I die, the most important ones would be about my family, the next one would be I would like to see a cure for cancer, and right after that I would like to break 80, just once in my life on any golf course.

Your wife says she's a fan of your golf game and the Jets because she needs both to play well for you to be in a good mood.
I made a decision a couple of years ago that I'm not a good golfer. Golf is a game of endless failure and frustration. I was coming home infuriated. I was not enjoying the experience. I was getting so frustrated with my lack of progress that I made the decision: I was going to quit playing, or I was going to force myself to have a good time even when I didn't play well. This is my leisure time, for crying out loud. I have made an effort to maintain that attitude on the golf course. I would say I have done a fairly good job of that. Which is not to suggest there are not still days when I'm not speaking to anyone for a good hour after my round. And the Jets, well, that's just a lost cause.

If you had to give up the Jets or golf, which one would go?
If I could give up either one I would be a lot healthier. I'm an addict, and that's what I'm addicted to-golf and the Jets. I guess, on some level, it's better than being addicted to drugs. I know deep down, there's no way I could give up either one.

If you were going to get one lesson would you go to Hank Haney, Butch Harmon or David Leadbetter?
I think I would go to Dave Pelz because I really need a lot of work on my short game. Everyone says he's the short-game guru, right? I'm never going to be that long. One of my struggles in golf is that if I take a really full swing, if I get the coil you're supposed to have, I have all kinds of problems losing the ball right. It's a pronounced fade, and it costs me so much yardage, so off the tee I'm usually 20 to 30 yards shorter than the players I play with. As a consequence, my 60-degree wedge is my favorite club because I use it on just about every hole. That's what I need help with. If Dave Pelz is the short-game guru, then he's my guy.

Your wife told me she's thinking about playing more golf. Should she take a lesson from you or a pro?
Definitively she should get lessons from anyone but me. She should get a lesson from an infant before she gets a lesson from me. I've discouraged her because golf requires a great deal of patience. My wife is my favorite person I've ever met in my 40 years on the planet, and I'm sure she would agree that patience is not her strongest characteristic. I don't know that golf would be the game for her.

Do your kids play?
My kids are learning to play, and they like it a lot. I'm ecstatic. I'm not going to make the same mistake that my father made. I'm encouraging them to play a lot of golf. They'll be taking lessons this summer. I am, unfortunately, saddling them with the Jet-fan thing. I didn't learn my lesson there, but they are going to be golfers.

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