In May, Rick Reilly of ESPN wrote a feature on Michael Phelps and his post-Olympic aspirations. You can read this article here.
“The Human Fish is ready to try land,” Reilly penned, pointing out in the same feature Phelps was ready to burst from the bubble he had been living in as a swimmer nearly his entire life.
When Reilly asked Phelps what he wanted to do after retiring from swimming, Phelps said. “I want to play all the great [golf] courses. [Bob Bowman] gave me a poster with the 100 greatest courses in the world on it, and every time I play one, I put a little pin on it.”
Phelps’ desire to hit the greens reaches back to adolescence.
"Even in high school, I'd tell my mom I was sick of swimming and wanted to try to play golf,” he told Reilly. “She wasn't too happy. She'd say, 'Think about this.' And I'd always end up getting back in the pool."
That said, flash forward to Phelps’ interview with Bob Costas after Phelps won his final gold medal Saturday.
Again, Phelps alluded on a few occasions to his desire to try his competitive spirit at golf, according to USA Today.
As revealed by Reilly, Phelps was taking lessons from Hank Haney. For those who do not know, Haney also tutored Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara.
Now I know Phelps seems like that big kid finally allowed join his friends outside at recess, after being held in detention. And I know this 26-year-old human Free Willy wants to go everywhere and do everything after a long and storied Olympic career.
But eventually, Phelps is going to settle back into a career that will enable him to feed his seemingly unquenchable competitive juices.
Could this new career include professional golf? I mean, how fun would this be to watch?
Imagine Phelps trudging the finest PGA golf courses during the next two decades, pounding golf balls for millions to see.
Talk about a skyrocketing interest in golf (and marketing).
I can hear the near whispering NBC Commentator now. “Back at Augusta. Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps are engaged in a seesaw battle for the coveted green jacket.”
Imagine the gatherings that Woods and Phelps would generate. Course owners would have to augment security staffs to maintain crowd control at tournaments around the world.
Imagine the roar of the crowd when Phelps sinks a 50-foot putt on the 14th hole. Meantime, crowds loyal to Woods and Phil Mickelson fire up their vocal cords in the distance, as their favorite golfer matches Phelps pound-for-pound.
Some will say this is highly unlikely, for the grind of being a professional golfer is arguably as intense as being an Olympic swimmer.
But Phelps is a fierce competitor. And Phelps also has a deep passion for golf. Combine these two, and one may have the makings of a man on a mission for even more decorations.