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Q&A with John Smoltz

Q&A with John Smoltz

"I've had a lot of great rounds but very few have ever been with him," John Smoltz says of playing alongside Tiger Woods.

May 5, 2009

John Smoltz, 42, has had the distinction of playing with Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam in the same foursome. He's also the only pitcher in history to have more than 200 wins and 150 saves. After 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Smoltz had shoulder surgery last summer and is now in his first season with the Boston Red Sox. Although currently on the disabled list, he's scheduled to be back in early June. An avid golfer who still presses when he plays with Woods, Smoltz recently discussed his aspirations of making it on tour once he steps away from baseball, the golf course in his backyard, and how the world's greatest golfer also has no peers when it comes to talking trash.

Do you take an annual buddies trip?
I try to before each spring. Some work. Some don't. This year with the change to Boston I wasn't able to make that trip.

Where do you normally go?
On my way down to Florida, I cover the coast. We'll hit Wayne Huizenga's place -- the Floridian. Sea Island, where I have a place. We bounce around.

As the baseball season starts, does golf take a back seat?
I'll play more golf during the season than I'll play in the off-season.

Rank these three golfers, best to worst: Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux.
That's pretty easy. It would be me ... and then here comes the hard part [Laughs.] In a four-round tournament, they both are about the same. But if it came to the lowest score I think Maddux would nose out Glavine. But they both have about the same handicap. Glavine can't avoid that one hole where he makes a 6 or 7. He has that hockey loop but he can hit it, he can play with just about anybody. If it's a scoring tournament he's going to have a few more big holes.

Who will go down as the toughest hitter you've ever faced?
Tony Gwynn.

How about the toughest course you've ever played?
Butler National. I scored well on it, but it was a tough, demanding course. Actually, I take that back. The new one, Erin Hills (near Milwaukee), that's the toughest golf course I've ever played. It's almost 8,000 yards long.

If you could win one major, which one would you want to win?
That's tough. I would think I'd want to win the Masters. It would be cool to have a green jacket.

Have you played Bethpage Black?
I have not. This will sound snooty and snobby, but I'm not one to go somewhere where it takes a long time to play golf. I like a quick round.

How do you kill time on a plane?
I use the plane to go through all my mail. I'll accumulate a bunch of stuff and then go through it at one time on the plane. Sometimes I'll watch a movie; sometimes I'll play cards. There's nothing that's a set routine. I'm on the go so much; sometimes I just like sitting there.

One movie on a long flight?
"Dumb and Dumber" always puts me in a good mood. "The Fugitive." Believe it or not I could watch "The Rock" a bunch, too. But If I need to laugh, and things have been going tough, I'm going to throw something funny in there. "Dumb and Dumber" will always do it for me.

Are you an efficient packer?
I think I'm an efficient packer, but I'm not one with a strategy. I'm a pressure, last-minute packer. I'll actually clean up my closet before I pack, and get everything the way I want it to be, but I hate it. I hate the business of what I've had to do for 23 years. Hate it.

An all-expenses-paid trip to Bandon, Pebble or Pinehurst -- which would you choose?
Bandon Dunes because I've never been there.

 John Smoltz's Golf Course

"If I never get to play on another golf course for the rest of my life because someone says I can't, I'm in hog heaven in my own backyard." -- John Smoltz


Ireland, Scotland or would you prefer to stay in the United States?
I always prefer to stay here, but I certainly want to go to those places to check them out. That's the history of the game. I definitely can't wait to go over there.

You've never been to Ireland or Scotland?
I've only been out of the country once, and that was to the Bahamas; and that doesn't count.

One course for the rest of your life?
I have to say Hawk's Ridge [Hawk's Ridge is close to Smoltz's home in Ball Ground, Ga.] It's my favorite. I love the whole thing. I'm sure there are others, but I'm a convenience guy.

How many times have you played Augusta?
Five or six maybe. Something like that.

What's your lowest score at Augusta?
I shot a 72, but it was ugly. And when I say ugly -- I had 23 putts. For whatever reason, when I go there, I don't treat it like just another golf course and play golf. I let too much mystique creep in.

Have you played there with Tiger?
Yes I did. We played there on a Sunday. And as the story grows and the older I get, I'm going to say I was one of the few guys who played with Tiger on Sunday at Augusta.

Which Sunday was this?
It was two years ago, about two weeks before the Masters. It was during spring training.

Did you guys have a match?
Yes, but we didn't have our normal match because that's like going to my man's home course. Here's the deal: We didn't get a chance to hit any warm-up balls. I pipe one right down the middle on the first hole. And I felt good about it. And he hit it in the trap. And I made 6 and he made 4. My day pretty much went downhill after that, even though I had about a seven- or eight-hole stretch where I parred them all. He shot a 68 or 67, and it wasn't even fair with some of the tough pins.

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