Editors' BlogMay 9, 2008

Anthony and Jack on "Specializing"

Anthony Kim's comments this week at the Players about playing other sports as a kid recalled Jack Nicklaus last November at the World Golf Hall of Fame:

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Q. A lot of people throw the names of 20-something golfers with all this potential in the world out there left and right, but what do you think makes you different? What do you think might put you over the top?ANTHONY KIM: I think playing other sports growing up. Winning was pretty big to me, and doing anything to win just when you're down 15 points in a basketball game or when things are going bad, I feel like I'm going to just keep fighting and fighting, and I know a lot of the guys, most of the guys are going to do that out there and not quit and I think if you don't quit, you're going to have a good opportunity to succeed out here. >

Q. I was just curious, when you talk about your childhood and your background and being very well rounded and the different sports you played and whatnot, how has that served you through your career, and do you worry at all about what seems to be golfing landscape now where kids are doing golf and nothing but golf from an early age all the way through?

JACK NICKLAUS: You know, I can't do much with it. I think it's a different day. Everything is a different day. I hate to see kids specialize. Just like even the little school where my kids go to school, my grandkids are going to the same school that my kids did, and my kids got to have the opportunity to play all sports; they played football, basketball or baseball or golf or whatever they played, and they played that all through school. Now that silly school is now specializing in sports. I said, that's why you go to a small school, so you can be able to do all those things, have the opportunity to do it. Basically you have to do that. You have to almost specialize to be able to play.

You see kids specialize in golf. I think that is idiotic. It's crazy. I mean, you've got -- here you've got all these great things -- I don't know any of my grandkids play golf. They play, but they don't play golf. I can't imagine any of them if they really want to put a score on the board are going to break 90, but they're all quite capable of breaking 80, but they just don't play. And that's fine...

To play all the sports is great. I played everything. My dad played everything. When I finally ended up, golf to me was just another sport until I was about 19. When I won the National Amateur at 19, I finally said, hmm, I must be a little better than I think I am. It was just a game, still is a game. But it didn't make any difference to me. I mean, I was not -- I went right back -- I was in school at Ohio State, and I went right back and put my golf clubs away and played intramural football and basketball and volleyball and I didn't touch a golf club for three or four months, six months, whatever it was. It didn't make any difference. I knew I was going to play golf next year.

But I think kids today, they don't get their bodies well-rounded.... Eventually if you want to specialize in something, that's fine, but go out and enjoy and be happy to be able to play other things and do them. The opportunity to do that is there for you if you want to. That's what my dad did to me. He just gave me the opportunity. He introduced me to everything. I couldn't get enough of any one of them I played. I thought that was just great.

--Bob Carney

(Photo: Richard Heathcote, Getty Images)

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