What does the most decorated Olympic athlete in history do when he is retired at the ripe old age of 27? Well, if you’re Michael Phelps, you dive head first into the game of golf. Phelps has signed a deal with Ping to play a full bag of their custom fitted clubs. He’ll break those bad boys out at the pro-am for the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week while playing with Bubba Watson.
“It is going to be cool to be able to go play with Bubba. I don’t know if I can compare it to anything, but walking up to the 16th is going to be a little crazy. I’m going to go out there and have fun and enjoy myself, and as long as I do that, I think that’s really all that matters,” Phelps said when asked about playing with Watson.
It’s clear that Phelps is an incredible athlete; you don’t win 18 Olympic gold medals by being average. He’s also already displayed a decent level of proficiency on the golf course. He holed a 153 foot putt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year. That putt is thought to be the longest televised putt in the history of the sport.
“I have a goal in everything I do,” Phelps told USA TODAY Sports. “I have friends who are single handicaps and scratch golfers, and I would love to be able to go out there and to challenge them and to be able to compete with them without them giving me 15 strokes.”
It sounds to me like Phelps, who is currently under the tutelage of Hank Haney, may be looking to get his Tour card in the future, but he is still an incredibly raw golfer. While he has gotten a late start, he obviously has a great deal of time on his hands now that his swimming career is over.
Getting to learn from Haney isn’t the worst thing in the world, either. “The potential he has is really unlimited, because of his athletic ability, his build for golf,” Haney said. “Plus, he has an incredible work ethic. And the third thing that excited me is he has had coaching his whole life, so he is used to being coached. That makes a difference.” Phelps is the newest celebrity to appear on Haney’s The Haney Project, which will air on The Golf Channel starting February 25th.
I can’t say whether or not Phelps will ever make it on Tour, or if he will even try to make it, but I can say for sure that he has the athletic ability to do it.