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Why do NBA Players Like Golf?

Why do NBA Players Like Golf?

Why do NBA Players Like Golf?

From the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, to one of the greatest sports commentators, Charles Barkley, it seems like more-and-more current and former NBA players are taking up golf during the offseason and when they are away from the game.

And with so many current and former NBA players hitting the golf range, we figured we would take some time to discuss just why do NBA players like golf so much?  Below, we’ll look at why so many NBA and basketball players play golf during the offseason and during their spare time and how golf is a great sport to play for an athlete.

Current and Former NBA Players Who Play Golf

Before getting into just why NBA players like to play golf, we thought it would be useful to step back and take a look at current and former NBA players who play golf.  These NBA players both play golf casually and competitively and can be seen at their local golf courses throughout the year.

  • Bill Russell – the former Boston Celtic great, Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships in his 13-year career.  He first took up golf while playing for the Celtics and worked his handicap down to an 11 as an 80-year-old.
  • Ray Allen – the second all-time three-point scorer in NBA history, Ray Allen has two NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.  Allen reportedly has a 1.6 handicap at TPC River Highlands, which is the site of the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship.
  • Shaquille O’Neal – the former Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat star may have four NBA championships, an MVP trophy, two scoring titles, and 15 all-star selections, but we imagine that his golf game is probably as strong as his free-throws.
  • Michael Jordan – the greatest basketball player of all time is also one of the most prolific golfers.  Often seen on the golf course with a cigar in hand, Jordan’s love for golf has been widely discussed and is a topic he has never been too shy to admit.  And with a handicap hovering near 1, Jordan hosts an annual tournament, dubbed the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational since 2001 and has raised nearly $7 million for charity.
  • Larry Bird – another Celtic great, Larry Bird is often seen on the golf course and has been listed as having a 4.1 handicap.  With three NBA titles and three MVP awards, Bird seems capable enough to do it on both the hardwood and the green.
  • Charles Barkley –  often seen playing gold on the Gold Channel’s Haney Project, Barkley has been known to struggle at the game but continues to practice and play to improve his style.
Why do NBA Players Like Golf?
  • Stephen Curry – while Curry may be best known for his ability to shoot the basketball from nearly any spot on the court, he is also a prolific golfer and enjoys spending his weekends on the green.
  • Julius Irving – Dr. J may be best known for his otherworldly dunking abilities, but the former ABA and NBA star used to own The Celebrity Golf Club International outside of Atlanta until it filed for bankruptcy.
  • Chris Paul – while Chris Paul is best known for his electrifying passes and quick dribble, he is also a big fan of the PGA Tour and an avid golfer.
  • Klay Thompson – part of the Splash Brothers duo, Thompson reportedly has a handicap of 12 and has listed Pebble Beach and Pelican Hill as his two favorite courses to play on.  And in 2016, he teamed up with fellow teammates Andre Iguodala and Steph Curry to play in the Augusta National.

Tiger Woods Made Golf Cool Again

Prior to Woods’ ascent to golf’s greatest player of all time, golf was seen as an old-man’s sport, relegated to retirement homes and television screens in doctors’ offices across the country.  But Tiger Woods brought back the cool factor to the sport.

It is a well-known, and well-documented, fact that professional athletes are typically friendly and cordial with one-another.  And with Woods’ ascent to golfing stardom, he has been able to bring in new faces and players to the game, including NBA players.

The Jordan Effect

Similar to how Tiger Woods brought new popularity to golf, so too has Jordan.  Many of the current stars and elite players in the NBA grew up watching Michael Jordan on the basketball court and the golf course.  And in an attempt to emulate the greatest basketball player of all time, many current NBA players have taken up golf.

Dubbed The Jordan Effect, he has had an outsized effect on the game of basketball.  From sticking his tongue out during a drive to the basket to lobbying the NBA to lengthen the size of basketball shorts, Jordan has an outsized presence in the game that doesn’t appear to be subsiding.

Why do NBA Players Like Golf?

Golf is a Life-Long Sport

Whereas the general retirement age of most NBA players is 28-years-old, most professional golfers are able to play well into their 70’s and 80’s.  And due to the innate competitiveness that many NBA players have, retiring from the NBA can be a difficult and life-altering decision.

Golf, however, can be a great transition for most NBA players.  Providing NBA players with a way to maintain competitive play, golf can be played for many decades after an NBA player has retired and is a great way to remain in shape and competitive.

Golf Has Little Risk to an Individual’s Body

While there is a risk of injury in all professional sports, golf, by-far, offers the lowest chance of a major injury.  For this reason, many NBA players will opt to play golf casually during the offseason.  A great way to stay in shape and catch up with friends, NBA players don’t have to worry about risking an injury while they play the sport.

Why do NBA Players Like Golf?

Work-Life Balance

Most NBA players, and NBA games, are played and broadcast at night.  And with most NBA practices and team schedules set for early mornings, NBA players have a wide stretch of the day for fun and leisure.  One great way to kill the time and spend some time outdoors is to take up a game of golf.

In addition, playing golf throughout the day, and before an upcoming game, is a great way for NBA players to stretch and warmup before a game.  The movement, swings, and walking between holes in golf is a great form of exercise and a way for NBA players to increase their movement throughout the day.

The Effects of Social Media

NBA players, as compared to their NFL, NHL, and MLB counterparts, are often some of the most recognizable and prolific celebrities across the world.  With millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter, both NBA players, and the league, are in tune to newer generational trends.

As such, NBA players make it a point to show a more personal and relatable side of themselves to the general public.  And one great way to do so is to show their fans and followers a life outside of basketball.  Posting pictures of themselves playing golf is an easy way to show their personal life to fans without divulging too much information regarding their inner circle.