Thursday, July 15, 2010

What a Stupid Question that was

It’s so different to see some professional athletes out of uniform. I’ll bet some of you didn’t even know golfer Jim Furyk is almost bald. You are so used to seeing him in that golf cap.

Me, I didn’t recognize Brett Hull in golf attire even when he was one of hockey’s top scorers.

It was 2001, and I was dining at an Outback Steakhouse in the Pinehurst, N.C., area. I met Joe Stansberry, an accomplished amateur golfer from Minnesota, who was there with a bunch of his friends on a golf vacation. He introduced me to his buddies, and that’s how I met Brett Hull.

Not looking as intimidating as I thought a hockey star might, I dared to ask a question that haunts me to this day. “What do you do,” I asked?

“I play hockey”, he said, without making me feel the slightest bit embarrassed.

I felt like the guy in the airline commercial who “wants to get away.”

After all, he was in the midst of a brilliant 20-year career, and following in the footsteps of his famous father, Bobby. The 45-year-old Hull retired in 2006, with 741 goals and 1,391 points. At one time, was the top scorer in the NHL and he played on a Stanley Cup title team. Today, he is executive vice president of the Dallas Stars of the NHL.

This week, however, Hull is among the celebrities playing for a $125,000 first prize at the American Century Championship playing in a 54-hole Stableford event at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nev. And his Dallas friend, golf instructor Hank Haney, likes his chances.

He made a couple thousand dollars last year, and a 14-year best of $17,503 in 2008.

“I’m patient with crossword puzzles but I’m the most impatient golfer,” Hull has said in the past. “I’m still that way, but I’m a better putter now,” said Hull. “Anybody can hit it, but I really just learned to putt after I’ve been playing the game for 20 years.”

by Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association

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