The No. 1 'Swing Coach': Mike Ditka

The No. 1 ‘Swing Coach’: Mike Ditka

NFL Hall of Famer Mike DItka, 71, hosts the Mike Ditka Golf Classic (<!-- --><a target="_blank" class="1000" href=""></a><!-- / -->).
Rudy Archuleta

When did you start playing golf?
I got hooked when I was in college.
I love it. I still shoot in the 80s. If I
couldn’t play golf, I don’t know what
the hell I’d do.

Your nickname is “Iron Mike.”
Does that extend to the course?

Lately, I’ve been driving it in the fairway,
and chipping and putting [well].
But my irons stink!

Next year’s Ryder Cup is at
Medinah, near your beloved
Chicago. If you coached Team
USA, what kind of motivational
speech would you give?
Respect your competition, but beat
your competition.

Which Tour pros are tough enough
for football?

All of them. They hit the daggone ball
so stinking far. And golf takes such
mental toughness. You have to be able
to block things out.

Describe a great day on
the course.

My buddies and I just played 27 holes
at a course in Michigan, and I made
a hole-in-one on my 27th hole, with a
6-iron! It’s about laughing, having a
few beers, and betting a little.

Are you as intense on the
course as you were as an
NFL head coach?

As you get older, you don’t worry so much about winning and losing.
You just hope to hit some good shots
and be competitive.

Talk about your charity golf tournament,
the Mike Ditka Classic.

We raise money to help former NFL
players in dire need [with health issues].
A lot of guys are hurting and
have fallen through the cracks. They
have dementia, Alzheimer’s. I see how
bad they get year to year. I know what
they go through—I’ve had four hip

So you can feel all those hits you
took as a tight end?

I’ll probably need a shoulder replaced,
but as long as I can play golf, I’m OK.

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