Golf Magazine Interview: Drew Brees

Earlier this year Brees, 31, led New Orleans to its first Super Bowl title.
Patrik Giardino

What do you like best about golf?
I love just how hard a game it is. It’s something you can never master. You can get close, but it’s one of those games that keep you coming back for more. As frustrating as it can be at times, that one great shot or one great hole keeps you coming back. It’s relaxing. As crazy as I feel my life is at times, to step out on a golf course is therapeutic. Just to be outside, be in nature, enjoy the beauty of a golf course and be able to play a game that’s still competitive. You’re still working toward something: you’re trying to birdie every hole, you’re trying to play better than your handicap. And you play golf with people you like. There are so many great elements to it.

Standing under center, do you ever find yourself daydreaming about golf?
No. Never. If I thought of golf while I was under center, I would get my head knocked off [Laughs]. I try not to think about football when I play golf and I definitely don’t think about golf when I’m playing football.

What was your best moment on the golf course?
I had my first hole-in-one last year at a course called Applebrook near Philadelphia. That was a pretty exciting experience. It was 199-yard par 3, but it was playing 205. I hit a pure 5-iron that was tracking to the hole the entire time. It’s the only time I’ve actually hit one that the minute it left my club I was thinking, “This ball’s going in the hole.” I just knew it.

How does the exhilaration of a hole-in-one compare to throwing a touchdown pass?
Well, getting a hole-in-one is much more rare so that was a pretty good feeling. But the moment when the timing and everything has come together, whether it’s the perfect pass or the perfect shot, it’s a similar feeling.

Why are so many quarterbacks good at golf?
There are a lot of similarities between the quarterback’s throwing motion and the motion of hitting a golf ball. Your hips, shoulders, and everything coming around in an efficient way and the timing element and the hand-eye coordination, it’s all very similar. Plus, for quarterbacks, completing a third-down pass or fourth-down pass into tight coverage is like making an 8-foot putt to win on 18. There are a lot of parallels you can draw there.

If you, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre played a skins game, who’d take home the most money?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. Someone should organize that and we’ll see.

If you got hurt and had to choose a pro golfer to quarterback the Saints, who would it be?
I’d say Bubba Watson. He’s got some good height to him, he’s about 6’2 or 6’3. I know he went to Georgia so he’s used to a pretty good football tradition. He’s exactly my age (31) and I think he’s got the mindset for it. You watch him hit a golf ball and there’s no doubt this guy could throw a football.

Are there any other pro golfers who might make gpd football players?
Ricky Barnes. His dad played professional football and he’s built like a tight end so I’m saying Ricky Barnes could play tight end if he wanted to.

Who are the best and worst NFL golfers you’ve played with?
Trent Dilfer is pretty good. Tony Romo is a good player. Carson Palmer, Chris Chandler are good players. John Elway. I don’t know any bad players, most of the guys I’ve played with are pretty good.

In March you played in the Honda Classic pro-am with Jack Nicklaus. What about Jack most surprised you?
He doesn’t get to play a lot of golf because of his course-design business and other stuff, but he’s still so consistent with his game. He gave me a lot of tips as we were playing. It was a really windy day when we played so he gave me tips on hitting shots into the wind — choke down on the club, take an extra club, make a more compact swing, keep the ball a little lower. I was pulling my head up while putting so he gave me a little trick to keep my head down while I’m putting. I’m been working on those things and they’ve really helped my game. It’s pretty cool when Jack Nicklaus is giving you advice.

Jerry Rice flamed out in his bid to join the Nationwide Tour. Do you feel that some football players — and pro athletes in general — underestimate the difficulty of succeeding in pro golf?
Yes, I think they do a little bit. I just got done playing in the Pebble Beach U.S. Open Challenge. I didn’t play very well, but that course was so hard. The rough was so thick you couldn’t hit anything more than an 8-iron out of it. Typically, you’re just grabbing a wedge and trying to hack it 90 degrees back into the fairway. You’re not advancing it at all. The wind was blowing, the fairways are tight, the greens are fast. You combine all those things together and it’s like the perfect storm. You cannot make a mistake or it will cost you two or three strokes. I played terribly but it made me appreciate just how difficult a U.S. Open course is and the difficulty of tournament courses in general. To play that sport where you grind for four days straight and have to play really good golf in order to win a tournament is tough work and I have a lot of respect for those guys and what they’re able to do.

When you hang up your cleats, could you see yourself making a run at pro golf?
I would love to. I feel like if I could dedicate the time to it, I could be a good player. Whether I’ll have the time to do that, I don’t know, but I definitely love the game of golf and I’m always going to play it.

Many QBs excel at the two-minute drill, maybe because they’re not think over-thinking every play. Would golfers be better off if they took only two minutes to play every hole?
Maybe not two minutes, but the faster you play the hole, the better, because you don’t have time to think. You don’t think about all the problems on the shot, you don’t over-think your club selection, you just grab your club and grip and rip. With the slow play you have to maintain your focus for so long. It can be mentally draining. That’s why you’ve got to be mentally tough to play that sport. If you speed it up, it makes it a little easier. But if you did speed golf on the PGA Tour, I don’t know if many of them would make it, because I’m not sure how great shape they’re all in [Laughs].

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