Every golfer has had that moment. One second, they’ve snuck out for a round of golf, hoping to enjoy the sunshine and relaxation of a few hours on the course. The next, they’re fielding a phone call from their boss and buried in their cell phone, attempting against all odds to get work done from the middle of the fairway.
For some, the solution is simple: tend to the issue, then keep playing. But for others, there’s only one outcome — the dreaded mid-round exit. It’s a situation no golfer is immune to, even the Green Bay Packers’ newest backup quarterback.
It was a normal Wednesday morning for Blake Bortles, right down to the location. The former Jaguars and Rams quarterback was enjoying another fine Florida morning of relative retirement from the NFL at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. First on the docket, a round of golf at the Ocean Course; a private, par-71 Robert Trent Jones design some 15 minutes from PGA Tour headquarters and TPC Sawgrass.
After a short time, Bortles reached the 380-yard, par-4 8th hole. He would soon turn back toward the Atlantic Ocean, but the tricky inland stretch had tripped him up. On the 8th, he faced disaster — still needing a putt to save double-bogey — when his phone began to ring.
Bortles’ agent was on the other end of the line, who quickly explained the situation. Earlier that morning, Aaron Rodgers had tested positive for Covid-19. In a bind for a backup quarterback, the Packers had reached out to Bortles, who spent the preseason with the team. Would he be interested in joining the active roster for at least the next two weeks until Rodgers recovered?
Of course, the answer was yes. Bortles, the former No. 3 overall pick, wasn’t happily retired from the NFL. He yearned to get back on the field with his teammates, to once again prove himself a competent NFL quarterback. But for the moment, he still had 10 holes of golf remaining.
Unfortunately, there were more pressing matters at hand. Green Bay needed him in Wisconsin ASAP in order to get him up to speed. They had arranged his travel to leave as quickly as possible. Bortles would have to leave his round behind.
And so, the Packers’ newest quarterback hung up the phone, scooped up his double-bogey putt, and drove back to the clubhouse en route to the airport. He was in Green Bay by the afternoon, and has already begun the process of re-learning the offense from the summer. On Sunday, he’ll serve as the Packers’ backup against Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps he’ll have time to pick-up his round sometime early next week, though it might be a little late in the season for golf in Green Bay.
Now only one question remains: what score did Bortles take on No. 8?