After many months of research, we've discovered that a huge number of active and retired athletes spend time on the golf course. Our ranking of the top 150 athlete-golfers is merely a sampling of those who play this great game. We also included a golfer or two from sports other than the big four of baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Rick Rhoden was our No. 1 when we ranked athlete-golfers in 2007, and there's no doubt he'd beat everyone on this list. But the former major-league pitcher is really a professional on the celebrity and senior circuit who belongs on another ranking. Unless there are some nassaus that have gotten out of hand, no one among this 150 earns a living playing golf.
** HANDICAPS WITHOUT A DECIMAL POINT ARE UNOFFICIAL ESTIMATES*
RANK/NAME HANDICAP COMMENTS 1. Tony Romo plus-3.3 Cowboys QB won two tournaments and finished second in another during the off-season. Romo shot 71-69 to win the Will County Amateur in Crete, Ill., in April, and partnered with PGA pro Mark Walker to win the Northern Texas PGA Pro-Scratch Championship. In July, Romo finished second to Rick Rhoden at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. Because Romo doesn't update his golf handicap, we took his tournament scores from 2008 and '09, plugged them into a handicap calculator and came up with plus-3.3. We're confident Romo is a deserving No. 1.
Swing sequence: Tony Romo 2. Craig Hentrich plus-2.8 Lots of NFL punters play golf, but this Tennessee Titan is too good to ignore. 3. Mark McGwire plus-2.2 Might eventually be a Hall of Famer. For now, a very good golfer at Shady Canyon G.C. in Irvine, Calif. 4. Mike Schmidt plus-1.1 Phillies Hall of Famer uses deep-sea fishing, not golf, to raise money for cystic-fibrosis research. 5. Jerry Rice plus-0.7 Plays a lot of golf in Northern California, often at Sharon Heights G.&C.C. T-6. Mardy Fish 0.0 Three career ATP Tour wins and ranked 26th in men's tennis heading into the fall. T-6. Livan Hernandez 0 Nationals starting pitcher has said he'll try golf as second career after baseball. T-6. Brett Hull 0.0 Now a VP with the Dallas Stars after five NHL teams and two Stanley Cups. T-6. Nate Roberts 0 World-champion moguls skier in 2005 is dreaming about playing on PGA Tour. 10. Pete Sampras 0.5 Bel-Air and Bighorn member hasn't posted a score in two years, but pros say his Index is accurate. 11. Marc Savard 0.6 Boston Bruins points leader missed qualifying for 2008 Canadian Open by one stroke and has a putting green in his Boston condo. T-12. Jamie Langenbrunner 0.8 Devils captain set personal scoring records in '09; belongs to golf clubs in New Jersey and Minnesota. T-12. John-Michael Liles 0.8 Top-scoring Avalanche defenseman and member of 2009 Team USA lettered in golf in high school. 14. John Elway 0.9 Broncos No. 7 still No. 1 in Denver.
Swing sequence: John Elway 15. Brett Favre 1 Eventually he'll retire for good. Until then, playing to a 1-handicap is a challenge. 16. Mario Lemieux 1.1 Penguins owner plays at Oakmont, Laurel Valley, Nevillewood and Allegheny.
Swing sequence: Mario Lemieux T-17. Mike Modano 1.3 Dallas Stars center is highest scoring American-born player in NHL history. 19. John Smoltz 1.6 Joined Cardinals in August for pennant race and still plays plenty of golf but hasn't posted this year.
Read: Q&A with John Smoltz T-20. Marc Bulger 1.9 Rams QB belongs to Oakmont and, closer to St. Louis, Boone Valley. T-20. Dan Marino 1.9 Index is lowest ever. T-22. Penny Hardaway 2.0 Retired from NBA; plays at Spring Creek Ranch near Memphis.
Swing sequence: Penny Hardaway T-22. Ivan Lendl 2 Not even the best golfer in his family, with three potential pro daughters. T-22. Erica McKenzie 2 U.S. Olympic hockey hopeful was a top junior golfer. 25. Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2.2 Winningest bowler plays at C.C. of Ocala in Florida. T-26. Nick Punto 2.3 Versatile Twins infielder is team's best golfer. T-26. Joe Sakic 2.3 Retired after 20 NHL seasons; plays golf at Bear Creek G.C. in Denver. T-28. Johnny Bench 2.5 Hall of Fame catcher plays at Mission Hills.
Lighten your grip: Take a tip from Johnny Bench T-28. Adam Wainwright 2.5 Cardinals pitcher played in 2009 Honda pro-am. 30. Tom Glavine 2.6 Free agent since June has time to work on game. 31. Clyde Drexler 2.7 NBA Hall of Famer plays at Lochinvar and Royal Oaks in Houston. 32. Derek Anderson 2.8 Browns QB shot a 78 in round with Ohio's Ben Curtis. T-33. Dan Jansen 2.9 Olympic gold skater gets instruction from teaching-pro wife, Karen Palacios.
Read: My Game: Dan Jansen T-33. Kyle Lohse 2.9 Cardinals RHP plays at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale. T-35. Drew Brees 3 Saints QB hasn't updated handicap since 2008 but says he's better than his 4.8. T-35. Michael Jordan 3 Shot 86 in U.S. Open conditions at Bethpage and rediscovered his confidence. T-35. Derek Lowe 3 Low Braves pitcher with Smoltz and Glavine gone. T-35. Ben Roethlisberger 3 Steelers QB amazed with an 81 in Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge at Bethpage.
More photos and articles on Ben Roethlisberger T-35. Joe Saunders 3 Angels starting pitcher is team's best golfer. T-35. Kelly Slater 3 Nine-time world champ told Surfer magazine: "Golf is the greatest game in the world." 41. Kyle Boller 3.2 Ex-Ravens QB, now with Rams, plays at Caves Valley in Maryland. 42. George Brett 3.3 His rant, in defense of Royals manager Trey Hillman, generated news at a May charity golf tournament. 43. Ronde Barber 3.4 Bucs CB plays at Old Memorial and Cypress Run. 44. Brenden Morrow 3.5 Dallas Stars captain plays with many other jocks at Vaquero. T-45. Michael Cammalleri 3.6 Signed $30 million deal with Canadiens in July after big season with Calgary. T-45. Mason Crosby 3.6 Packers kicker set records at the University of Colorado before joining NFL. T-47. Cam Neely 3.7 Hall of Famer and ex-Bruins RW now team's VP. T-47. Vinny Testaverde 3.7 After 21 NFL seasons with six teams, it's all golf now. 49. Matt Ryan 3.8 Falcons QB won an ESPY as Best Breakthrough Athlete of 2008. T-50. Daniel Alfredsson 4 Ottawa captain is 14th in career goals among active NHL players. T-50. Roger Clemens 4.0 Former pitcher's golf might be least controversial aspect of his life. T-50. Marshall Faulk 4 Seven-time Pro Bowler and 2000 NFL MVP shifted his competitiveness to golf. T-50. Ian Kinsler 4 Rangers 2B and leadoff hitter was among American League HR leaders. T-50. Alex Kovalev 4 Needs six goals for 400 in NHL career; won Stanley Cup with Rangers in '94. T-50. Pete Weber 4.0 Bowling legend keeps his handicap at courses in Missouri.
** HANDICAPS WITHOUT A DECIMAL POINT ARE UNOFFICIAL ESTIMATES*
RANK/NAME HANDICAP COMMENTS T-56. Larry Bird 4.1 Back spasms and Pacers job have curtailed his golf. T-56. Trent Edwards 4.1 Bills QB aced 168-yard fourth at Stanford Golf Course as a student. 58. Tim Wakefield 4.3 Red Sox knuckleballer plays on Cape Cod. 59. Peyton Manning 4.6 Playing in his first AT&T at Pebble Beach, missed cut with pro Webb Simpson. 60. Ray Allen 4.8 Celtics guard is still best golfer among NBA starters.
Swing sequence: Ray Allen T-61. Kyle Korver 5 Jazz F shot 86-87 in the Utah Amateur after a 74 on media day. T-61. Justin Verlander 5 Tigers ace is one of the best pitchers in baseball. T-61. Jerry West 5 "I'm hitting the ball places I never dreamed it could go," says frustrated NBA legend. 64. Troy Aikman 5.2 Cowboys Hall of Famer and Fox broadcaster was blasting 1-irons in college. 65. Mike Eruzione 5.6 Captain of 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympic team. 66. Bobby Orr 5.8 Bruins great belongs to The Ridge in Massachusetts and Jupiter (Fla.) Hills. 67. Mike Ditka 5.9 Won NFL title game as Bears TE in 1963; won Super Bowl as their coach in '86. T-68. Brandon Inge 6 Tigers All-Star 3B is one of team's top HR hitters. T-68. Emmitt Smith 6.0 Eight-time NFL Pro Bowler won new fans on "Dancing with the Stars." 70. Jerry Bailey 6.1 Hall of Fame jockey plays at Grande Oaks in Davie, Fla. 71. Boomer Esiason 6.2 NFL's MVP in 1988 plays at Atlantic and Garden City on his Long Island home turf. 72. Jason Kidd 6.6 As a Maverick, NBA star plays at Dallas National G.C. T-73. Kevin Millwood 6.7 Texas Rangers pitcher also plays at Dallas National. T-73. Doc Rivers 6.7 An NBA guard for 13 seasons; now Celtics coach. T-75. Oscar De La Hoya 7 His Golden Boy Promotions has limited golf time, which he especially enjoys at Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico. T-75. Reggie Jackson 7 One of Tiger's biggest fans plays fives times a week. T-75. Josh Johnson 7 Marlins All-Star pitcher can hit for power, too--three HRs through early September. T-75. Bode Miller 7 Skiing's bad boy has been trying to play more.
Swing sequence: Bode Miller T-75. Carson Palmer 7 Bengals QB has been plagued by injuries. T-75. Matt Schaub 7 Earning $17 million this year as Houston Texans QB. 81. Stephen Curry 7.6 NBA rookie plays golf with dad, Dell, in Charlotte. T-82. Marcus Allen 8 Hall of Fame RB is devoted to improving his golf game.
Read: "My Game: Marcus Allen T-82. Jerome Bettis 8 "The Bus" shot a 79 at Shinnecock in May.
Swing sequence: Jerome Bettis T-82. Tom Brady 8 Patriots QB showed golf skills on HBO's "Entourage."
Read: Interview with Brady's coach, Bill Belichick T-82. Chad Hedrick 8 Won three Olympic speed-skating medals in '06 Games. T-82. Ozzie Smith 8 Hall of Fame SS is playing in lots of charity golf events. T-82. Josh Willingham 8 In July, Nationals LF was first since '03 to hit two grand slams in one game. T-88. Brian Roberts 8.1 Orioles 2B maintains his handicap at Whisper Rock. T-88. Aaron Rodgers 8.1 Out from under Favre's shadow, Packers QB saw his handicap rise last summer. 90. Bob Cousy 8.6 Celtics legend plays near his Holy Cross alma mater at Worcester C.C. and at Bear Lakes in West Palm Beach. T-91. Anthony Gonzalez 9.0 Colts WR caddied for Peyton Manning in Quail Hollow pro-am with Tiger. T-91. Joe Mauer 9 Going for third American League batting title with the Twins. T-91. Rafael Nadal 9 Tennis great is pals with Sergio Garcia; says favorite courses are Pula in Majorca and Madison at La Quinta. T-91. Joe Nathan 9 Twins All-Star closer. T-91. Mike Richards 9 Flyers captain was team's No. 2 in points last season. T-91. Jessie Vetter 9 Goalie/Olympic hopeful was NCAA female hockey player of year at Wisconsin. 97. Todd Heap 9.2 Ravens TE since 2001. T-98. Bo Jackson 9.9 Two-sport icon (NFL and MLB) now an Illinois banker and business owner. T-98. Eli Manning 9.9 Giants QB belongs to exclusive Garden City G.C. T-100. Rod Laver 10.0 Tennis legend was a single-digit handicapper before his 1998 stroke. T-100. Albert Pujols 10 Cardinals leader has two MVPs, a World Series ring and is nearing 400 HRs. T-100. Mark Teixeira 10.0 Yankees 2009 All-Star is No. 14 on SI's Fortunate 50 with $181 million contract.
** HANDICAPS WITHOUT A DECIMAL POINT ARE UNOFFICIAL ESTIMATES*
RANK/NAME HANDICAP COMMENTS 104. Harmon Killebrew 10.2 Twins 11-time All-Star now 73 and living in Arizona. 105. Wayne Gretzky 10.6 "The Great One" hopes to match Lemieux in winning Stanley Cup as owner.
Read: My Game: Wayne Gretzky T-106. Freddy Adu 11 Ghana-born soccer prodigy now playing in Portugal has another favorite sport. T-106. Chipper Jones 11 Braves slugger in 16th year and one of the game's best switch-hitters. T-106. Andy Pettitte 11 Yankees LHP's last Index was a 7.9 in 2006. T-106. Jason Taylor 11.0 Back with Dolphis, closer to Adios and Grande Oaks. T-106. Chase Utley 11 Phillies All-Star 2B is big part of explosive offense. 111. Jim Rice 11.6 Red Sox slugger entered Hall of Fame in July. 112. John Havlicek 11.8 "Hondo" plays on Cape Cod and in Palm Beach area. T-113. Jay Cutler 12 Bears QB not always a fan of formal golfwear. T-113. Johnny Damon 12 Orlando native enjoys guest rounds at Isleworth; has played since age 18. T-113. Terence Newman 12 Cowboys CB plays five days a week during off-season. T-113. Shane Victorino 12 Phillies' "Flyin' Hawaiian." T-113. Jayson Werth 12 Another Phillies slugger, with distinctive chin hair. T-118. Dick Butkus 12.4 Former Bear belongs to Spanish Hills in Southern Cal. T-118. Rod Carew 12.4 Twins and Angels Hall of Famer also plays in Southern Cal. 120. Evan Longoria 12.6 At 23 had another great season for Tampa Bay Rays. 121. Joe Namath 13.1 Plays at Nicklaus' Ritz-Carlton club in Jupiter, Fla. T-122. Brandi Chastain 14 U.S. women's soccer hero played in AT&T at Pebble. T-122. Bill Russell 14 Celtics great plays frequently around Seattle. 124. Julius Erving 14.9 Dr. J owns Celebrity G.C. International in Atlanta. T-125. Sidney Crosby 15 Penguins phenom isn't as proficient with golf clubs as he is with a hockey stick. T-125. Cole Hamels 15 Phillies LHP was 4-0 in '08 playoffs, World Series MVP. T-125. Brad Lidge 15 Phillies closer was eighth in NL MVP voting for 2008. T-125. Steve Nash 15 Suns guard and two-time NBA MVP living in NYC. T-125. Matthew Stafford 15 NFL's No. 1 pick facing biggest challenge with Lions. T-125. LaDainian Tomlinson 15 "LT" takes game seriously. T-125. Wes Welker 15 Patriots WR finished T-60 in his first Tahoe event. 132. Sugar Ray Leonard 16 Belongs to Riviera C.C.
Read: Final exam with Sugar Ray Leonard 133. Antwaan Randle El 17 Redskins WR played in pro-am at AT&T National. T-134. Whitey Ford 18 Yankees legend, 80, plays at least nine holes a week. T-134. Alonzo Mourning 18 Retired from Heat; at 6-10, tallest player on our list. T-136. Bonnie Blair Cruikshank 19 Six-time Olympic speed-skating medalist (five gold) plays near Wisconsin home. T-136. Jason Campbell 19 Redskins QB also played in AT&T National pro-am near D.C. (Tiger played with Romo, the Cowboys QB, that day, irking Skins fans.) T-138. Landon Donovan 20 All-time leader in goals and assists for U.S. National soccer team. T-138. Chris Paul 20 NBA phenom Tweets ("Oneandonlycp3") about improving his golf game. 140. Shane Battier 20.1 Rockets F wore green jacket to his "Caddyshack"-themed 30th birthday party. 141. Jimmie Johnson 21.1 Winner of 40-plus NASCAR races plays at Quail Hollow. 142. Kurt Busch 22 Also a top NASCAR driver. T-143. CC Sabathia 25 Yankees pitcher hits it long, wants to get good at the game eventually. T-143. Darryl Strawberry 25 Still new to the game, but he's a fanatic. 145. Manny Pacquiao 26 Boxer hopes to own a course. 146. Yogi Berra 31.5 Quote machine still posting scores at age 84. 147. Misty May-Treanor 32 Beach volleyball player partners with Kerri Walsh. 148. Chuck Liddell 33 Ultimate Fighting champ was essentially a beginner at '09 Tahoe celebrity event. 149. Derek Jeter 35 Says he likes the game a lot, needs more time to play. 150. Charles Barkley 36 Hank Haney's biggest project is still a golf addict.