Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate is a serious golfer. So serious, in fact, that he took his handicap down from the low teens to a single-digit last year.
I caught up with the NFL star at the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s Annexus Pro-Am to find out more about his game, his opinion on the league’s best and worst golfers, and whether or not a round of golf would be a good way to prep for the upcoming Super Bowl.
TPC Scottsdale is a pretty cool environment for a pro-am. How did it go on 16?
It was intimidating. I got, like, really nothing [from the crowd]. My tee shot went in the bunker, just a little short. Wasn’t too bad though. I should have clubbed up. I hit a pitching wedge and should have gone with a 9-iron.
It’s been almost a year since we last talked. How’s your game?
I’ve only played like, seven rounds in the last year. I’m still trying to figure it all out. When you’re not in season, you’ve got to start all over with your swing, and then you’ve got to adjust based off what injuries or sorenesses you have, So I’m still trying to figure it all out, but it’s coming along all right.
Weren’t you like a 12 or 13 last year?
I started off somewhere around there, and I got down to about a 7.5 index. Now I’m trending around 8.
That’s impressive. Who are three of the NFL’s best golfers?
I was just with [Jacksonville Jaguars DB] Ronnie Harrison last week. He’s a good golfer. But Tony Romo is probably the best.
Did you get to see him up close?
Yeah, I’ve seen him at the Tahoe event a couple times, and he’s very competitive with his score. He might be the best in the NFL. And then number two would be [Arizona Cardinals WR] Larry Fitzgerald.
He’s making lots of appearances on the pro-am circuit these days.
Yeah, it kind of depends on what day you catch him, but he’s a real good player, considering he doesn’t really hit a driver ever.
Really? Because it’s a bad club for him, or he’s just long enough that he doesn’t need it?
It might be a combination. I don’t know. But he hits his 2 or 3-wood damn near 300 yards. So, you know, I wouldn’t need it, either. But then, I’d say [free agent WR] Bryan Walters. I play with him in Seattle. He’s a good player. And [Buffalo Bills kicker] Stephen Hauschka is a good player.
Let’s go the other direction. Are there any guys who love the game but just have a brutal time of it?
The guys I know, they’re not bad. They could definitely go out there and shoot 80, but they can also shoot 95. I’d say Reggie Bush is one of them. [New York Jets WR] Jermaine Kearse, another good buddy, I play with him a lot. The guy could shoot 70, 79, but then shoot 95.
That must bother them to no end.
I mean, it’s just kind of how we’re built. We’re all competitors. We’re super competitive, and we hate not being good at anything, so it kind of bothers us all. But it also keeps us coming back, because we know what it feels like to get that eagle or get that birdie. And we know that we’ve hit enough good shots that we can play the game. We’ve just got to find a way to be consistent.
Have you ever seen Tom Brady play?
I haven’t. I would love to see his swing. If it’s anything like how he runs, it’s going to be hilarious. [Laughs]
Do you think playing golf would be a good way for the guys to prep for the Super Bowl?
For me, it probably would, just because it would allow me to take a step back and really take my mind off of it a little bit. It’s such a huge game and there’s a huge amount of pressure guys put on themselves. It would help to get away from football for four hours, throughout an entire week of preparation. Only if I can ride in a cart, though.