A round with Golden Tate: The Lions star on his game, the quest to improve, and why one of his annual tournaments is not for the weak

October 7, 2018

The Detroit Lions wide receiver is lefty but plays as a righty. He shares his story on why he decided to switch, his rounds with Reggie Bush, how he makes every 18 pay off and more.

We’re toasting with bottled water today.

I just started working out again, and I’m giving myself the best chance to make it through the workouts. Hydration is a key part of that, so you don’t get soft-tissue injuries.

I’m catching up with you at a PXG media day at Scottsdale National, where you had a pretty impressive round.

I shot an 82 with two double-bogeys. For me, that’s a really good round.

How did you get into golf?

My grandfather was a huge golfer, and I played baseball, basketball and football growing up. He was a righty. I’m left-handed, and I just kind of picked up his clubs and held them like a [lefty batter]. Finally, in 2014, I thought, I’ve had enough. I want to be really good at this game. It’s probably good if I make the change to [a righty]. And here I am, at about a 10 index, trending to a 13, probably.

You live in San Diego, and word is you’re playing a lot of golf in the area.

Yeah. As I get older, I can’t do the things I want to do on the basketball court, so golf is a great way to mentally challenge myself. It’s a great social sport; you’re outdoors in sunny California. I’m kind of an addict. I’ve got the bug. [Fellow NFLers] Jermaine Kearse and Reggie Bush and Garry Templeton — all those guys love the game of golf, so I picked it up.

For a lefty playing righty, Tate’s swing isn’t bad at all!

Got a good, funny story?

I don’t know if you’ll think it’s good. [Laughs] Every year, one of my best friends, [former NFL quarterback] Jimmy Clausen, has the “Clausen Classic,” where eight of his buddies play three rounds of golf, tournament-style. The second round, on Saturday, is a scramble, and the foursome has to finish a pint or a handle of whatever your choice of alcohol is by the 18th hole. Last year, I decided I wanted to knock mine out [quickly]. So we get to the ninth hole and I can’t see straight, I can’t see the ball. And I’m like, “Thank God it’s 18.” Then I find out we have another nine to play. At some point I was making snow angels in the sand. So that’s my story. [Laughs]

Has being a football pro made you a better golfer?

It’s made me a better golfer and vice versa, because golf makes you practice patience. You have to be so fundamentally sound in golf; the same with football in a lot of positions. For me, it keeps me mentally strong. Although I’m not out here running routes, I’m still competing against the course or, in my case, against whoever wants to gamble.

Is gambling an essential part of the game for you?

Yeah, 100 percent. And if it’s a nickel — whatever it is — once you put that in, I turn way more competitive. And then there’s no gimmes