Professional golf seems to be a siren song to many professional athletes from other sports, who think their skill is transferable. Michael Jordan, recall, once aspired to a professional golf career.
The latest is New York Mets star Yoenis Cespedes, who is in the midst of helping the Mets win the National League East.
“Well, I’ve been playing golf for only a year and a half,” he told the New York Daily News. “Some people who have been playing golf for years learn that I’ve only played a year and a half, they can’t believe it and they say, 'incredible.' I've been thinking about it — if there is an opportunity to play professionally later, maybe not PGA, but I would like to play golf professionally.”
Ambition is admirable, but often misguided, as it likely is in Cespedes’ case. Former pitcher Rick Rhoden was probably the best golfer in baseball in his era. He had three top-10 finishes in Champions Tour events and qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. But he never succeeded in his attempt to join the Champions Tour.
“A lot of guys can shoot par around their own golf course,” Rhoden said. “Playing tournament golf is a little different. It’s a lot more difficult than they think it is.”
Cespedes, meanwhile, is a two-time winner of the baseball’s annual Home Run Derby. But playing golf isn’t Home Run Derby. As Sam Snead once told Ted Williams while they debated the difficulties of their respective sports, “but you don’t have to go up in the stands and play your foul balls. I do.”