Kicking a football. Hitting a golf ball. The similarities (and differences) between the two have been discussed recently by three NFL kickers.
Although Washington Redskins kicker Justin Medlock plays golf, he garners more attention for his part-time caddying job. When his football schedule doesn't conflict, he caddies for his girlfriend, LPGA golfer Hannah Jun.
"It's similar in that you have to forget the last kick or the last shot. The difference is that kicks come every 20 minutes, your next shot is two minutes away. You have to get over it fast. The pressure is a little more extreme in my case because of the crowds. But in golf the pressure is you have to succeed to make money.... [Hannah] knows I put a lot of pressure on myself and I can get a little stressed, especially when punting. She tells me just to relax and do my thing."
Earlier this week, two kickers came up short in their attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open. The Minnesota Vikings' Ryan Longwell discussed kicking vs. golfing prior to the event:
“It’s so similar it’s scary. I feel that one of my advantages is knowing how to react under pressure, knowing how your body feels when you have nerves going and how to swing your leg kicking or swing a golf club when you feel that way. I know a lot of the tour guys that I play with here at Isleworth that’s kind of how I can hang with them. Mentally, I understand what it’s like to stand on a tee with everybody looking. It’s just from kicking a football under pressure for so many years. I feel that’s one of the advantages where I can keep a round going if I’m not hitting it as well. Just knowing that you’ve got to make the next one, you’ve got to hit the next shot.”
“I work by myself. I don’t have a kicking coach and I know that approach has worked well for me. I know there’s a lot more intricacies in the golf swing than kicking field goals but I’ve kind of taken that same approach. I’m a pretty simple feel guy and I have had questions that I’ve asked some of the pros at Isleworth. I’ve asked them tips and stuff and how they approach stuff. So I’ve taken that and just really kind of tightened up the swing, shortened the swing and understand the key of how important the short game is. Chipping and putting. That’s the approach I’ve taken and there’s enough guys around here that have seen me play enough that if something gets out of whack with my swing I can ask them pretty quick and they can see what it is.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars' Josh Scobee discussed the experience afterward:
"It's a lot different from competitive football. But I had fun. I hit some decent shots, hit some bad shots and learned a lot. The course was in perfect shape and the weather was perfect. I enjoyed my first experience at competitive stroke-play golf."
"When you're kicking, you want to do the exact same thing on every kick. But in golf, every shot is different and you can't improve your lie.... I'm so used to being out there [in a football game] where the people are screaming when you're trying to do your job. It's a little different [in golf] when everyone is quiet."
Scobee's boss, Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio, offered a more concise assessment:
"Hit it straight, and when he comes to kick field goals, kick those straight. That's what I'm looking for."