Ozzie Smith explains how he fell in love with golf

Ozzie Smith has been a longtime staple on the celebrity pro-am circuit.

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With a World Series title, 15 All-Star team appearances and 13 Gold Glove Awards, Ozzie Smith is an indisputable front-runner for the title of MLB defensive shortstop GOAT.

But these days? The now 67-year-old is fully focused on his golf game.

On this week’s episode of Subpar, Smith explained to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz how he got into the game — and why it wasn’t until he was an adult.

“As a kid I never picked up a golf club,” he said. “I grew up in South Central Los Angeles. It was baseball, basketball and football. So golf was never that thing for any of us.”

Smith said that is was during the late ’80s when Whitey Herzog invited Smith to hit the opening tee shot in his golf tournament. Even though he’d never swung a club before, Smith agreed, and arrived a couple days ahead of time to practice.

“As an athlete, I love the process,” Smith said. “And that process continues today, knowing that I will never perfect it, but getting it to a point of consistency, where I know what it is that I’m trying to achieve.”

Ozzie Smith plays a shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex Corporation at the Thornblade Club on June 10, 2021 in Greer, South Carolina.
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Smith says he got comfortable enough during practice to hit the tournament’s opening shot.

“I hit it, and it went down the middle,” he said. “That was it. You know, when you hit it good. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Smith says he’s loved the challenge of getting the clubface more square at impact, and relishes the joy of competition.

“For anybody who’s played any sport for 15, 20 years, there’s a competitive void in your life after you’re done. Golf fills that competitive void because I’m competing first of all against myself, competing against the course and the people that you play against. I love the process and trying to figure it out.”

Smith has done well by any standard, and says he’s currently a 4 handicap.

For more from Smith, including what it’s like to play in high-profile pro-ams, his favorite courses and experiences with the pros, check out the full interview below.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.