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some more. Steve just walked around shaking his head.” Smoltz says he was lucky the Braves allowed their players to golf. “Every one of us took baseball seriously,” he says. “We respected the game, did our work, and were responsible when it came to fitting in time to hit the golf course, “My time on the golf course together with the guys in our rotation, especially Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, was an amazing gift to my game. I can’t imagine baseball without them or without golf.” Atlanta’s talented troika was hardly the first group of ballplayers who took to the links when time allowed. Babe Ruth was so good at the game that he won more trophies playing golf than he did playing baseball. And Ty Cobb, Ruth’s long-time rival on the diamond, took great personal pleasure in beating the Bambino not only at the ballpark but also on the golf course. In 1941, years after both had left baseball, a Ruth vs. Cobb match raised funds for the USO on the eve of American involvement in World War 2. Ruth once prepared for a baseball season by shooting 333 holes of golf in a single week. He also found ample playing time during the season because blue laws in many cities banned Sunday baseball and freed ballplayers for golf. Many other Hall of Famers also played golf. Nor did they analyze the reasons they played. As Yogi Berra once said, “I never like to golf in the morning and get involved in a ballgame at night. I don’t like to think twice in one day.” Other famous Yankees who loved the links ranged from Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Willie Mays didn’t worry about the mental aspect of the game. “There is no difficulty hitting a golf ball,” he said. “Why should there be? The ball is just sitting there waiting for you to smack it.” Tom Seaver has a golfing pedigree: his dad Charlie was with the American team that won the 1932 Walker Cup matches against Ireland and Great Britain. In addition, Seaver’s grandfather Everett was a fine

amateur player. Robin Yount, inducted into the Hall of Fame after Seaver, was so enamored with golf that once quit baseball for two months while trying to become a professional golfer. “I injured myself on my motorcycle before spring training,” he said, “and was scared to death to let anyone know. I was unable to play like I should have so I told somebody I might have to try to play golf instead.” Yount’s hiatus lasted only two months before he returned. Like Yount, Ozzie Smith put himself on the fast track to Cooperstown by starring at shortstop. But he found golf equally challenging. “In golf, every day is a challenge,” he said. “There are so many different things to consider. Golf certainly offers some of the most complex situations I’ve found in sports.” Smith says a batter’s rhythm and timing follows the actions of the pitcher but a golfer must develop and maintain rhythm and timing throughout the game. Stitches on baseballs and dimples on golf balls increase speed and distance, he says. “The swing is somewhat similar but it’s just a different plane,” says Wade Boggs, whose string of batting titles paved the way to Cooperstown. Golf is a mental game. You have to be mentally stable for 18 holes and create shot after shot after shot.” Many executives even completed trades on golf courses – including the Leatherstocking links at the century-old Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown. Both the course and the town trace their names back to early American history, when James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Leatherstocking Tales. The first permanent American course, the St. Andrews Golf Club of Yonkers, N.Y., opened in 1888 but the first course in New England followed just two years later when baseball pioneer George Wright built a temporary 10-hole course at Boston’s Franklin Park. By the turn of the century, there were more than 1,000 courses across the country – and lots of ballplayers honing their eye-hand coordination

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PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA

PGA National Resort & Spa magazine 2016/2017  
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