By Dennis de Jesus Jr.
Lost in the high profile theatrics of Phil Mickelson’s big win over not only the field, but Sunday Tiger Woods himself, was the fact that this was the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Event, with a small emphasis on the “Am”. The amateur component of the tournament adds an extra something to make it unique, as if the beautiful backdrop of cliffs rolling into the pacific ocean wasn’t enough, am I right?
One of the selling points for the tournament was the key pairing of Tiger Woods and Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo. What better way to draw viewers in and fans into another non-major golf tournament but by assigning one of the marquee-celebrity-amateur-golfers with THE needle-moving marquee pro golfer on the tour? It does raise an eyebrow however, because in the 156 amateur-pro pairings, is it really “fair” to couple a really good amateur golfer with an absolutely great pro golfer? That would be like me and Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) playing Michael Jordan and any of the Harlem Globetrotters on a two on two street “pro-am” basketball tournament.
Tony Romo is no slouch on the course. In fact, it is reported that the Cowboys starting QB holds a 1 handicap on the course, even though some people (like Tiger himself) argue that Romo is more of a scratch golfer. It made me wonder – of the various sports/film/tv celebrities that entertain us and fashion golf as a serious hobby, which of them are really that good and who are destined to call up Golf Central to be Hank Haney’s next project?
Here is my list of the top ten handicaps of very well known celebrity golfers:
10. Tom Cruise – Film Actor (Hcp: 23)
Looks like Mr. Scientology has plenty of time away from philosophical studies to hit the links as well. I can’t say that I’ve actually seen him swing a club, but I’m sure knocking the handicap down a few strokes isn’t Mission: Impossible.
9. Ray Romano – TV Actor (Hcp: 18)
The “Everybody Loves Raymond” star recently worked with Hank Haney to help improve his game and find ways to be consistent from setup to follow through. A strong showing in this year’s 2012 Pro-Am proves that it might have worked and may tame with his normally tongue in cheek negative attitude on the course.
8. Will Smith – Film Actor (Hcp: 14)
It comes as no surprise that an actor who has been involved in a golf film would have an appreciation of the sport. The star of films such as Men in Black, I Robot and The Legend of Bagger Vance is said to have a pretty strong short game and may or may not have spent time honing these skills on the links of Bel-Air…
7. Bill Murray – Film Actor (Hcp: 13)
Even to this day, fans chant for a Carl Spackler quote any time this hall of fame comedian steps on the course. Unfortunately for Murray, there was no Groundhog Day performance this year and he wasn’t able to repeat as champion for the 2012 edition of the AT&T Tournament.
6. Kevin Costner – Film Actor (Hcp: 12)
I try to think of any other actor who could have played Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy and I draw a blank. It was as if the role was suited for him perfectly. What I do know is if I played as reckless as he did in the movie, there is no way I could even be close to a 12 handicap. Maybe a 112.
5. Clint Eastwood – Film Actor/Director (Hcp: 11)
At 81 years young and at a very respectable near single digit handicap, it is conceivable for this Hollywood legend to score his age for any given round. Maybe it’s his ability to stay in good physical shape throughout the years, but I really believe it’s his ability to read greens accurately with his perma-squint that has brought him success even to this day.
4. Sylvester Stallone – Film Actor (Hcp: 10)
It’s hard for me to imagine Rambo walking around with a golf bag over his shoulders, Judge Dredd standing over a putt or Rocky yelling “fore” from the teebox. But as it turns out, Sly is pretty good with the sticks. Okay – I can actually picture him at the teebox after an errant shot, “YO, ADRIAN!!!!”
3. Michael Jordan – NBA Hall of Famer (Hcp: 4)
After basketball, golf is admittedly MJ’s favourite sport. In an interview, His Airness claimed that golf was an incredible sport because it is one of those skills “you can never perfect.” Given that statement, it makes sense why the greatest basketball player of all time retired from the NBA in 2003. He perfected it.
2. Tony Romo – NFL QB (Hcp: 1)
It’s widely known in golf circles that Romo could conceivably earn a PGA Tour Card if he dedicated a little more time to refine his skills. Given his competitive nature and natural athleticism, perhaps Romo is already setting up his retirement plans after the NFL (he probably has a better chance of winning some sort of championship in his golf career anyways).
1. Kenny G – Musician (Hcp: Scratch)
Like a golfer, an instrumental musician has to be good with his hands. They both have to be creative and see/hear things like a true artist would. Luke Donald is an accomplished painter in his spare time, so it makes sense that a world class musician would be an accomplished golfer in his spare time. Maybe we’ve solved what the “G” stands for?
Oh by the way, a big congratulations to Harrington/McManus and Harman/Ontiveros for winning the Pro-Am portion of the 2012 AT&T Tournament. Makes me think that with the right teammate, I might have a chance against Michael Jordan and the Harlem Globetrotter.