One of the perks of being a major league baseball pitcher, besides the wealth and fame and all that, is the ability to get onto any golf course you want, any time. And for some, that privilege now extends to golf tournaments.
When he was part of the legendary mid-90s Atlanta Braves pitching rotation, John Smoltz, along with Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, played golf at some of the country's best courses whenever road trips took them in that direction. Now retired, Smoltz has been given the honor of a sponsor's exemption into the South Georgia Classic at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga. in late April.
Smoltz, a scratch golfer, previously tried and failed to qualify for the U.S. Open. And he's acutely aware of the perception of athlete-as-golf-dilettante, illustrated by Jerry Rice's atrocious performance last year on the Nationwide Tour.
"I don't want to step on anyone's toes," he told Golf Channel's Morning Drive. "I'm not looking to take anybody's spot who is aspiring to be a Tour professional. I have a lot of respect for everybody who does what they do on the Nationwide Tour."
Smoltz is one of the most decorated postseason pitchers in history, so he knows a thing or two about pressure. Come April 28, we'll find out if he can break down a course the way he broke down hitters.