Jerry Rice Pro Golf Experiment Fails

It turns out pro golf is harder than NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice thought.

Rice made his pro golf debut this past April, shooting 83-76 to miss the cut at the Nationwide Tour’s Fresh Express Classic. Then the wheels really fell off. He shot a 92-82 at the junior league’s BMW Classic Charity Pro Am this past week. And then he was disqualified because his caddy used a range finding scope.


I think it highlights the fact that golf is a lot harder than it looks. Anyone who plays knows that. And although the pros make their game look nearly effortless, what they do is absolutely otherworldly.

While eating at the fish fry following last night’s golf league, a couple of the players wondered if—given a year or two of solid practice—they couldn’t manage to get to pro levels. “When I play three or four days in a row on our annual golf trip, I can see myself getting better,” one opined. “I start out shooting 100 on the first round, then 90 in the second, and by the end of the week, I’m down to the mid eighties. If I got to play every day, I could get there.”

Another went on to say that he had played the TPC Dearborn, where the Ford Senior Championship used to be played, and didn’t think it was that difficult. Of course, he had played from the white tees … but with a bit of practice …

I’m sure they’re all kidding themselves. With families and jobs, they’re never going to play every day. And even if they did, it’s unlikely—at best—that they’d reach the necessary level of proficiency. These guys are all athletes of a sort, having played various high school sports and are now coaching at the high school level. They are capable of making good athletic moves. But I don’t see it happening. Anyone who wants to see an average golfer’s difficulty in just breaking par ONCE—let alone getting a handicap down to zero or better—should read Dream On: One Hack Golfer’s Challenge to Break Par in a Year. Most tour players would come in at a +5 or a +6 handicap. Back in the day, Greg Norman’s handicap was estimated to be a +9. Given that, a Tour player likely is eight to ten shots better than even a scratch player.

But given his recent playing experience, I’m certain that a couple of the guys in my league could give Jerry Rice a run for his money.

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6 thoughts on “Jerry Rice Pro Golf Experiment Fails”

  1. I think there might have been some arrogance in the Jerry Rice thing. He thought he was good enough to compete as a pro and then didn’t know you couldn’t use a range finder? Really, you have to be on your game, not only with swinging the clubs but knowing the rules when you’re a pro. There was a commercial on tv a while back about the guy who said he was thinking about going pro and the buddy reminded him of the kids’ college funds and the mortgage. The guy said “Exactly, one good year and that’s all taken care of.”  You’d think people would learn from a commercial but nope – they think, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.”

  2. The Golf Blogger is 100% correct.  Anyone that dreams of what they could do with practice and a year of tuning their game should stick to their daydreams.  Try playing with a club pro some time.  A few years ago I had a playing lesson in Florida with the pro at TPC Prestancia.  He was in his late 30’s or early 40’s.  He shot even par for the round without breaking a sweat.  He would be the first to admit that he had no chance against a tour player.

    If you can’t hit a 300 yard drive and break 70 every once in a while, don’t quit your day job.

  3. There’s a similar book from a few years ago called “Paper Tiger.” A 29-year old that was a very good golfer took a year off of life, lived in Florida, played golf every single day, trained with a great coach, got to a +1 handicap … and then started to play legit minor-league tourneys and had a lot of upper 70s.

    The book was good, but, it would’ve been more better if he was willing (and had the money) to try serious tourneys for 3-4 years instead of 4 months.

    I’d be fascinated to have an in-depth explanation of Zach Johnson, a mediocore college player who finally made it. I really wonder how he was consistently able to bring himself to the next level.

  4. I wonder how Jerry Rice would feel if one of the younger players, like Camilo Villegas (just to pull one of the more athletic looking players name out of the hat) were to announce that he was going to become a NFL wide receiver? Jerry would laugh himself silly, I bet. Because Jerry knows how incredibly hard it is to be a NFL level athlete. Yet, because players like Phil and Tiger and even Camilo make golf look so easy, often people think they can do it too.

  5. I heard an interesting interview with a british writer on NPR, wish I had the name.  He had done written a book, based on a review of the available literature, trying to assess the talent/work question.  He made a strong arguement for work.  Apparently there is pretty good evidence that to become a world class performer, in most endevors including athletics, music, stage, it takes about 10,000 hours of focused, directed practice.  That’s not banging balls, and in my opinion implies a good coach to give the direction.  So… not one year, but five years, full time.  And you have to be young enough to physically handle it.

  6. I am looking at my trendlines and thinking that next year I may go pro.  wink !  Last year I was starting 2009 with a 20 or so, and that was a low, by November I had it at a 13.8—winter and the rainy season brought it to a 17.3, but in the past two months it has gone 15.3, then 14.6 and on Friday it will be no higher than a 12.0 (If I card another low 80s before then, I could get it as low as about a 11.5). 

    My only problem is if I just play the other course at the club, I am going to struggle to break 90, and that is the easier of the two courses.  Well, that and my other problem is as soon as the handicap hits 10 I have to play the green tees in my group and my distance on drives has dropped off.


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