The declaration by New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes again last week that he intends to play professional golf once he’s done with baseball warrants skepticism at a minimum.
Yes, he seems fanatic about it, and his trainer, Chris Wray, said “he's a three, four-handicap,” Tim Rohan of the New York Times reported. Even that is dubious, given that he has never posted a score at the USGA’s GHIN.com, though he is a member of the Polo Club Boca Raton.
But even if his handicap does fall in that range, here’s the thing: He’s not even the best golfer among New York outfielders.
That would be Aaron Hicks, the Yankees’ new addition, who was weaned on the same courses that Tiger Woods was in Southern California, according to this New York Times story.
Hicks, acquired by the Yankees from Minnesota in an off-season trade, grew up in Long Beach, Calif., where he attended Wilson High, the school from which Laura Baugh graduated.
He was an avid golfer who was in the youth program at Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach, where at four Woods began taking his first lessons, from Rudy Duran. Hicks also played at the Navy course in Seal Beach, where Tiger in his formative years often played with his father Earl.
“Everybody wanted to follow in the footsteps of Tiger, especially all the local kids, because he grew up where we did,” Hicks, 26, told Billy Witz of the Times.
Hicks’ father Joseph preferred that his son play golf. “He didn’t want me to play baseball,” Aaron said in the Times’ story. “I was winning tournaments, and he loved watching me play golf, and I was pretty good. He didn’t think baseball was in my future.”
In 97 games with the Twins last year, Hicks hit .256 with 13 homers and 33 runs batted in.
As for golf, Hicks, a member of Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, plays to a handicap index of 1.8 and has been as low as a 0.9, according to GHIN.com.
It is our considered opinion that golf is preferable to baseball, but it’s hard to argue that Hicks made the wrong choice. Roaming the outfield at Yankee Stadium argues in his favor.