American Century Championship: Does basketball cross over to the golf course?
NBA veteran Shane Battier chatted with the media in May as part of a conference call leading up to the American Century Championship, which begins this week. The Miami Heat player talked a lot about coming to Tahoe a champion, which he will; but the former Duke star also mentioned that what he does on the basketball court could transfer over to the golf course.
“A lot of things resonate with me as a basketball player, because swings and basketball jump shots are very similar,” Battier said on May 18. “They have to be in sync and they have to be fluid and they have to be performed without thinking about the actual mechanics. And that’s what makes a pure golf swing and that’s what makes a pure jump shot. Sometimes you can overthink a jump shot, just like you can overthink a golf swing.”
While Battier makes a strong case, he may be in the minority when thinking hoops transfers over to golf.
“The only carryover is the butterflies you get when you’re teeing off,” said Steve Kerr, a five-time NBA champion and analyst for TNT, who chatted with the media on a conference call for the ACC on June 18. “It’s similar for me to, you know, when you go into a game you get that feeling of competitiveness and just being out there and trying to achieve something, but it’s such a different sport. Basketball is so instinctive and fast. Golf, you’ve got way to much time to psych yourself out. To me it’s a lot tougher challenge.”
This will be Kerr’s fifth time competing at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, July 20-22. The former Phoenix Suns general manager has had respectable finishes, cracking the top 50 each year, including a 35th-place finish in 2002 and 37th-place finish in 2005. While he doesn’t see himself holding up a trophy at the end of the tournament, he’s optimistic about his golf game this week.
“I won’t be up with the Chris Chandlers and Billy Joe Tollivers of the world,” Kerr said. “I’m not a threat to win it, but broadcasting has been good to my golf game. It’s given me more chance to work at it. I’m looking forward to hopefully putting up a respectable showing.”
Jason Kidd, who was on the same conference call as Kerr in June, also said he doesn’t see much crossover between the sports.
“I would have to agree with Steve,” Kidd said. “I think basketball is where you react; here in golf, the slower you are, the better you might hit the ball. It’s very competitive. I think that’s probably the closest thing that compares – that we like to compete – and it’s something you can never perfect because every shot is different, every course is different.”
Kidd, like Battier this year, came to Tahoe last year as an NBA champion. He has played in the ACC 13 times, but will miss this year as the new New York Knick canceled after he was charged with a DWI on Sunday in Southampton, New York.
Even though Battier may be alone in feeling that the repetition involved with a jump shot resonates with a golf swing, that doesn’t mean he’s fully confident in his game.
“When I step on the basketball court, I’ve trained over tens of thousands of hours for my job, it’s what I do and I feel confident I can do that job well. Golf isn’t something that comes natural to me. I don’t like to practice. I love to play, I don’t love to practice. So, when I get out there, I don’t have the repetitions I have on the basketball court,” Battier said in May on a ACC conference call. “I’m not gonna lie, the first time you step out on the first tee and you’re overlooking the mountains and the lake, beautiful Lake Tahoe, you do get a little bit of sweaty palms and the knees do shake a bit.”
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