Q&A with John Smoltz

Continued (page 3 of 3)

Tell me about the little course you have in your backyard.
It's finally finished. I've created an environment at home where I really don't care to leave when I'm done playing baseball. I'm probably going to miss out on a lot of great golf courses, but I could accomplish and do everything I want to do in my own backyard. Every shot in the world that I want to work on can be in my backyard. It's a combination of a kid dream place and an adult dream place where I have everything you could want in the framework of a neighborhood on 20 acres.

I'm part of a company called Southwest Greens. I'm one of the owners. They came in; they put in two large greens -- anywhere from 8,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet. They're on opposite ends of my property with water involved on one of them. There's a big 2,500 square foot practice putting green and nine tees around the property. I have a special tee across the creek where it's a driver. You try to drive the green from 308 yards. What I wanted to do is be able to drop 100 to 200 golf balls and not feel like I was hitting to open space. I wanted targets and to be able to work on shots that are weaknesses of mine. And it really has helped. As little as I've been able to get out there and use it, it has really helped. 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's Golf Course

"Every shot in the world that I want to work on can be in my backyard. It's a combination of a kid dream place and an adult dream place where I have everything you could want in the framework of a neighborhood on 20 acres."-- John Smoltz

Have you ever broken a window in the house?
Yeah. Friends of my kids hit a rock by the pool and it jumped in and broke the window. The house is not really in play. You have to hit something crazy to get the house in play.

Do you have any holes-in-one back there?
I've had four. Three intended. One was in a hole I didn't intend to get it in.

How about on a real course?
I've had five.

At any special courses?
Yeah. I had a hole-in-one at Shadow Creek on a par 4, number 11. That was by far the most ridiculous, incredible -- you name it.

I read you and Dr. J won Michael Jordan's charity event in the Bahamas this year. What was it like playing with Dr. J?
Well, when I drew him I told him, "Doc, we just won." That's the way I felt. With the way I was playing, I love that tournament, I love that format, a two-man scramble, if I get someone to help me about seven to ten shots over two days we're going to win. And we were fortunate enough to make 10 birdies the first day with three bogeys. We had some dumb bogeys. And we made eight birdies the next day with no bogeys, so we won by two.

Who finished second?
Brett Hull and Brandi Chastain. It's tough to beat Brandi. I've had her as a partner. She is intense. She's great.

What's her handicap?
Now this is where it gets a little interesting. She says 20. But she's playing from the forward tees in a two-man scramble and she's a huge help. You don't have to worry about a drive half the time.

What is Dr. J's strength? You'd think he'd be a good putter.
Yeah. The first day, his putter, if he didn't make them, they were close. He made about five or six putts the first day, which were huge. I've played in four-man scrambles where we haven't made that many putts. He always gave me a good line, and we always felt there was a good chance we were going to make. His putting was valuable.

Three-foot putt for your life, do you putt it yourself or do you call Tiger?
I'd putt it. That's just the way I am. My life might be at risk, but I'd putt it. I don't like to grind all the time because I don't want it to take away from baseball. But when I grind, and the pressure's on, I love that feeling. It doesn't mean I'm always going to the successful, but I'm more inclined to make a putt of that magnitude than a three-footer for kicks.

If Tiger were a pitcher, would he be a starter or a closer?
He'd be the best-conditioned starter in the game.

You think he'd go nine innings every time?
He'd want to.

Do you watch golf on TV?
I do. I love to watch when Tiger's playing. To be honest, everything's better when he's playing.

Would you be shocked if it comes out that golfers are taking performance-enhancing drugs?
I'd be shocked if the numbers correlated to the other sports, but I wouldn't be shocked if there is somebody taking something. Golf is still one of the purest forms of sport. It's still a sport where you call stuff on yourself. But it's not removed from people failing, and being tripped up. I don't think I'd be shocked. I don't think you can say that about anything anymore.

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