HookedJune 7, 2016

Golden State Warriors Star Andre Iguodala Has Become A Golf Fanatic

© M. Cody Pickens Photography 2014

Andre Iguodala, a 12-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, is co-captain of a Golden State Warriors team that set a league record by going 73-9 this season, and the swingman earned MVP honors in the 2015 Finals. "That's all good," he says, "but let's talk about golf."

The bug has bitten. When he's not on the hardwood, the 6-foot-6 Iguodala—pronounced ig-uh-DAH-luh; his father is Nigerian, and Andre grew up in Springfield, Ill.—can often be found doing something golf-related. Watch that LPGA tournament on Sunday? Andre did. See that article about how to get out of a greenside bunker? Andre did. Did you stop by the local golf store to get your swing analyzed by a launch monitor? Andre did.

"I think he wants to be a golf pro when his NBA career ends," says his business manager, Rudy Cline-Thomas.

We kinda believe it, too. We visited with Iguodala, 32, during this year's NBA playoffs at his home course, Contra Costa Country Club in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and learned his obsession with golf is genuine. He's a gregarious golf partner and a sponge for any knowledge about the game. Read for yourself. —Interviewed By Ron Kaspriske


AM I A GOLFER? I'm getting there. I was about a 36-handicap three years ago. At the beginning of last summer, I was around a 22. And now I'm a 15.6. I'm trying to get down to about a 12 by the end of this summer. The golf game is up and coming.

I STARTED PLAYING with an old assistant coach of mine, Pete Myers. He taught me how to hit a draw, and I've been hooked ever since.

GOLF IS A GAME OF OPPOSITES, I've learned. To hit a draw, you want an in-to-out clubpath. What I try to do is think about a clock. If 12 o'clock is a straight path, I try to take it inside to 1 o'clock and then I swing it back outside to about 7 o'clock. I want to swing to right field and turn my hands over.

MY BEST ROUND is an 83 at Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes. Love that course. I also shot an 86 at Augusta.

THE AUGUSTA TRIP WAS FUN. It was a present for winning the 2015 NBA Championship. Steph Curry and I were able to go. Our coach, Steve Kerr, hooked it up with some of his friends. The experience was amazing. Being able to stay just above the pro shop and take in all the history ... just great.

OH, AND I BIRDIED NO. 2, the par 5. I hit a nice little shot from about 50 yards out and tapped in for a birdie.

STEPH'S GOLF GAME IS VERY SIMILAR TO HIS BASKETBALL: He doesn't have many flaws. He's a 0.6-handicap. He can drive it 285 to 290 yards. His iron game is amazing, and he's got great touch around the greens. His game is on point. Putting is probably his only weakness, but he still never seems to three-putt.

WHEN STEPH AND I PLAY, the guys on the team will ask how we did. On my good days, he'll say, "Andre beat me." And then they'll ask me, and I have to explain about handicaps and how Steph has to give me strokes. I wouldn't say I beat him, but with the handicaps in there, I've done it a few times.

WHENEVER WE HAVE AN OFF DAY, I try to get 18 holes in, maybe 36. A few times on the road, if we're in a city for a couple of days, or usually in the playoffs, when you have three days' rest, I'll play between games.

ONE TIME I PLAYED ON THE DAY OF A GAME. I played with a teammate, but I'll leave him out of it. We had a home night game, and right after, we flew to another city. We landed around 1 a.m. I woke up around 8 and got a round in. We played the same day, and we had a big win, so you might say golf got me relaxed and focused for the game.

© M. Cody Pickens

LYDIA KO CAME TO OUR PRACTICE ONE TIME. She was in town for a tournament in San Francisco. She didn't know I was such a big fan of the LPGA. I watch the girls play as much as I watch the guys. I feel like their fundamentals are great. They never miss. You can learn a lot from their swings.

ANYWAY, LYDIA JOINED US IN A PUTTING CONTEST ON THE HARDWOOD, and I was talking to her about left-hand low versus left-hand high. And she suggested I try left-hand low inside of 20 feet and left-hand high outside that. I roll the ball so much better now.

THE KEY TO A LONG PUTT is to have the same tempo and distance going back and through. Simple.

I'VE BEEN READING GOLF DIGEST FOR A WHILE. The first magazine I got when I subscribed had Arnold Palmer and Kate Upton on the cover. I keep it on my iPad, so on the road I can read it and watch all the videos. It's interesting, David Leadbetter just talked about getting out of the sand, and he said to take the club back like you're throwing a cup of coffee out over your right shoulder. That tip works. It's helped my wife, Christina, out a lot because she always struggles getting out of the sand.

CHRISTINA IS GETTING ADDICTED TO GOLF, TOO. She's in the early stages where she gets really frustrated, and she hasn't quite figured out that golf is a game of controlling emotion. When she gets that, she'll not only become a better golfer, but it will help her become better at playing bad lies throughout life.

MY SON, LIL' ANDRE, has a great swing, but he has no interest in golf. Maybe that will change one day.

I'VE GOT TWO SETS OF CLUBS, and I love reading about all the new ones online. I'm a Nike athlete, so I mostly play their clubs. But I did get a set of those PXG irons recently.

I REALLY KEEP SCORE. You know what I mean? I see people who say they parred a hole, and I'm like, "Uh, you just made a triple bogey." I count strokes. I count penalties. No gimmes. None of that.

WITH GOLF, you're sometimes playing by yourself, but you're always playing against yourself.

WHEN I'M PLAYING, I forget about everything in life. I forget about all the problems I have. And if they creep in, I just take it out on the ball.

THE FARTHEST I'VE HIT A DRIVER WAS 341 YARDS. I hit a cartpath, though.

I WENT ON TRACKMAN TODAY, AT GOLFSMITH, and I hit three drives over 300 yards, including two that carried that far. I use the Zepp sensor to measure clubspeed, and I've swung the driver 125 miles an hour. That's pretty fast. In control, I can still be at 115 to 118. That's all the speed I need.

I CAN SPIN A BASKETBALL ON MY FINGER. A golf ball? Impossible.


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