I played pickleball against two LPGA pros — here’s how it went

It’s not often you can force a pro golfer outside their comfort zone. After all, part of being an elite athlete comes from adaptability to adversity. Operating in high-stress environments is an integral part of the job description. Largely, these players are unflappable.

But on a sunny Monday morning in Orlando last month, we tried flipping the script.

The venue was the USTA Training Center. The sport was pickleball. And the unflappable experts (at least in theory) were a couple GOLF.com staffers — not the professional golfers.

For the last couple years, our brand has featured an ongoing video series called Pros Teaching Joes, where professional golfers teach us a thing or two about playing the game at a top level. But for this outing we decided to flip that idea on its head. What could the Joes teach the Pros?

That’s how we ended up on a pickleball court in central Florida with LPGA pros Danielle Kang and Celine Boutier. They’d just finished playing in their season opener the day before, but before they left town, they agreed to drop by the USTA Training Center to take a lesson from us on the mastery of pickleball.

The catch, of course, is that “expertise” would be far too generous a term for our own pickleball excellence. Kang and Boutier were complete newbies to the sport, but they picked up on it quick. And once they got the rules down, their competitive instincts kicked in and they were out for blood. We might’ve been the “experts,” but our lack of experience in pressure situations came back to haunt us. Not long after we introduced Kang and Boutier to the sport, they were celebrating a victory over the GOLF.com squad.

“It was supposed to be the joes teaching the pros something for once,” my partner Dylan Dethier lamented. “But it just didn’t work out that way.”

Results aside, the best part of the day came in a break in the action, when we got to chat with Kang and Boutier at the net. We might not have gotten them out of their comfort zone — but we did get them having fun, talking trash and reflecting on how their lives away from the golf course intersect with their on-course work. That was worth the on-court defeat.

Check out the entire video above.

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Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.