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McGwire teeing only himself up these days

January 13, 2010

Former baseball star Mark McGwire has been in the news following his confession for having done performance enhancing drugs (and in the process inviting a whole new round of criticism), which got me wondering how his pursuit of tournament golf had gone.

In a Golf World story in October of 2004, I wrote about McGwire's prowess at golf and his interest in testing the tournament waters, at least on the amateur level. In 2003, he won the ADT Golf Skills Challenge against stellar competition that included Padraig Harrington, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie. The following year he played in the Western Amateur and unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the California State Amateur and the Southern California Amateur, while turning down an invitation to play in the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic in 2004. "I'd love to do it when I'm ready, but I knew I wasn't ready," he said at the time.

McGwire, 46, was smart enough to avoid saying that he hoped to play professional tournament golf one day, though the thought clearly had occurred to him.

Golf was his first love, he had said, though he surely has abandoned any plans to play tournament golf beyond the club level. He is returning to baseball this year, as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, and his golf habit apparently has waned. A member at two Southern California clubs, Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine and the Madison Club in La Quinta, McGwire has not posted a score since September and posted only 12 scores in all of 2009.

His handicap index is still a respectable plus-1.1, but that is off from his best of plus-2.8. He's still making news, but none of it is for his golf.

-- John Strege