There is an undeniable bond between hockey players and the game of golf. Being that it’s A) Masters week OMG, and B) almost time for a lot of hockey players to hit the links (I bet the Isles and Leafs have some low-cappers after so many long summers), I figured I’d do my best to explain why so many hockey players are into golf.
1) Simple Timing
We might as well start with the basics: the most obvious of reasons is that hockey is a winter sport, and golf is a summer sport. Well, it’s a summer sport where the majority of hockey players come from, I suppose (Canada, northern and eastern US). And as you may have noticed, those guys have every summer off.
It’s a little easier to book a tee time than it is to, say, organize a baseball game, so the convinience factor has something to do with it.
But it’s more than that.
2) Physical aspect
The golf swing and the slapshot are not that different, mechanically. You find a way to generate power to hit something with as much force as possible, and being that hockey players already know how to do that, they can generally mash the ball pretty far. Where it goes is anyone’s guess (in my case, left), but they can create the necessary force.
Plus, every slapshot you take hits something directly in front of you, and usually pretty quickly. Whether it’s shinpads, a goalies glove, the net or the boards, it’s over before it starts. It’s nice to watch something soar into the oblivion. (In my case, “oblivion” is code for “out of bounds left.”)
3) Cultural Aspect
Hockey, unfortunately, is an expensive-ass game. The moment you decide to put your kids in hockey, you’re looking at a cool G just to get the ball rolling. Er, just to get the puck sliding. It sucks, but it’s the reality of the sport. Most kids are using sticks that cost three digits.
Golf isn’t exactly cheap either. Between the clubs, bag, balls and green fees, it’s going to cost you. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the opportunity to play these games, but it’s more likely that a family that can afford to put their kids in one is the type that would be able to afford the other too. This connection sucks, but it exists.
4) Mental Aspect
Golf is a nice change of pace for hockey players – usually you’re playing a team sport and making split-second reactionary decisions. That’s a lot of pressure. You don’t want to let anyone down.
It’s a relief to be the only person counting on you, and to get to think your decisions through a little more thoroughly. This, by the way, is why so many of us find the game such a fun challenge – in hockey, making the right decision is the battle – the physical part isn’t as delicate. In golf, you can know exactly what to do, but the execution is the real bitch. You really find out what you’re all about in golf.
5) The Commaraderie
The dressing room is a special place, though you’d never think of it that way while you’re in one. But after, you realize just how much fun every day is, hanging out with 20-plus like-minded buddies all around your age and into similar things.
Golf is the perfect venue to spend time with a couple of those guys, compete against them (something else hockey players crave), make fun of each other and do all the things stupid guys do, which may or may not include drinking beer.
6) The Extras
You work all winter indoors, it’s a great excuse to spend some time outside.
Summer training for a hockey players (go to the gym and get a skate in) can be taken care of by noon, giving you the rest of the day to do….something.
All in all, it’s just the perfect fit, a marriage made in heaven. Golfers may not be that into hockey (save for guys like ex-Atlanta Thrashers season ticket holder Stewart Cink), but like it or not, hockey players are into golf. Now if you’ll excuse me, Tiger’s coming through Amen Corner. I…have to be somewhere.
WARNING: NSFW LANGUAGE BELOW.