From Michael Jordan To Lando Norris; Here’s How Golf Became The Favourite Pastime Of The World’s Greatest Athletes

Don't quit your day job.

From Michael Jordan To Lando Norris; Here’s How Golf Became The Favourite Pastime Of The World’s Greatest Athletes

Image: Getty

Away from the intense everyday pressure of professional sport, athletes have been turning to golf for years, seeking peace and quiet on the green and finding solace with every swing to unwind between regular practice and fixtures. But what starts as a casual pastime for these sportsmen, becomes an obsession, a lifestyle and a passion.

Athletes are competitive. It’s why they excel where others have failed, reaching the pinnacle of their sporting career to become some of the best sportsmen in the world. From NBA MVPs to Wimbledon champions; from Champions League winners to Formula 1 drivers, every athlete at the height of their game represents hours upon hours spent perfecting their discipline, obsessing over the finest of details to improve their peak performance, to put on a show when it matters most.

Such is the mental discipline required to compete at the highest level that golf offers athletes a way of switching off from their primary sports and redirecting their focus into something entirely different; a completely new mental challenge, not only for active players looking to add another dimension to their game but also for retired professionals looking to maintain a high-level competitive outlet.

So, when did golf become your favourite sportsman’s favourite sport, and why are so many professionals turning to golf as a break from the day job?

Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have been playing golf together for years. Image: Getty

Golf offers a non-contact sport that still engages the competitive streak within every professional sportsman and woman, challenging the individual to improve across a spectrum of disciplines such as short game and long game, putting and driving, where a swing can become a slice with the faintest of degree of miscalculation.

“There’s no better feeling than flushing an iron and the ball doing exactly what you want it to do.”

Steph Curry

From Shaquille O’Neal to Charles Barkley, golf’s allure amongst basketball players has welcomed an abundance of NBA stars to grace the green for decades; whether it’s Steph Curry sinking a 152-yard hole-in-one, or Michael Jordan perfecting his short game with Tiger Woods, golf has always offered some of the game’s biggest and best a different outlet, and a rare chance to slow things down.

Speaking with, The Last Dance director Jason Hehir has credited golf as a means of escapism for retired NBA legend Michael Jordan, as he retains his competitive streak years after hanging up his Jordans: “He’s obviously not on the court anymore and he certainly likes challenges, so what better challenge than golf? I think it’s a sanctuary for him. It’s peaceful on the course. We all love golf because you can escape from the world… It checks his boxes for competitiveness and peace.”

WATCH Steph Curry sink a sensational 152-yard hole-in-one below.

For many, golf can simply represent an escape from the pressures of professional sport, with athletes finding the sport during a big move in their careers, or even following a significant change such as injury or retirement.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has maintained a well-documented love affair with golf since playing football in Spain, earning himself the moniker of “The Golfer” by his Madrid teammates.

Bale’s passion for golf grew after he moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, finding peace on the green after relocating to a new country. But when his hobby became an obsession, huge swathes of the Spanish media would use it to criticise the Welsh winger if he suffered an injury or a dip in form, saying he had become distracted by his favourite pastime, with his Welsh teammates coining the now famous slogan: “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.”

RELATED: Los Angeles Country Club – The World’s Most Exclusive Golf Club Finally Opens Its Doors

Welsh footballer Gareth Bale’s love for golf has been well-documented throughout his playing career. Image: Getty

Since retiring, Bale has made his PGA Tour debut alongside professional partner Joseph Bramlett, impressing his competitors during the Pebble Beach Pro-Am against celebrity amateur golfers such as Jason Bateman, Bill Murray and Macklemore.

“I told Gareth, you can’t be so good at professional football and golf at the same time, it just doesn’t seem fair,” Jon Rahm, 2021 US Open Champion said. “[He] can’t be dedicated to one thing and have this much talent for golf, it’s not fair in the slightest!”

It’s clear that with all the peak athleticism available to these sportsmen in their day jobs, they’re bound to have a natural affinity with another game. For professional athletes who strive for perfection in all they do, golf isn’t necessarily about your size or strength, but your ability to be consistently perfect with every hit of the ball, and that can be a powerfully addictive combination.