Graham Mertz was a three-year starter at Wisconsin before transferring to Florida prior to the 2023 college football season. For the fifth-year quarterback and first-year Gators starter, he needed an approach to build relationships with his teammates.
So, naturally, he turned to golf, a shared pastime among many of his teammates. Mertz, appearing on a Monday episode of "The Paul Finebaum Show," said the off-field activity has helped Florida with on-field results ahead of its road game against Kentucky on Saturday.
"I think in a weird way," Mertz told Finebaum. "We all do it because we love to go play golf. But the big thing that I saw was the more guys we could get involved doing it, it really led you to really know your teammates on a deeper level. It's different when it's third-and-7 and you got to execute than when you're on the fairway and you're in a scramble with your buddy and you're like, 'Alright, neither of us are really good at golf but we gotta figure out a way to make it work.'
"I think it tests you knowing your teammates on a different level. It's a different way to exercise that mental reset that happens during a game. And that's why I love it because it's like playing quarterback, but it's on a whole different area and it tests your mental fortitude on, 'OK, I hit a bad shot — which happens a lot because I don't have a lot of time to play golf — but what do you do next?' And that's why I enjoy it so much off the field and in the offseason."
Four games into his first season with the No. 23 Gators (3-1, 1-0 SEC), Mertz has completed an SEC-leading 77.8 percent of his passes for 951 yards and four touchdowns, along with two rushing scores. The Gators struggled in a season-opening loss to Utah but rebounded with a 29-16 road victory over Tennessee to kick off conference play.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) September 25, 2023
Mertz is on pace to have one of his best college football seasons, but still has room to grow on the fairways. Finebaum proceeded to ask Mertz whether it was harder to sink a 3-and-a-half-foot putt or convert third-and-long in footblal "with everything on the line."
"Definitely that putt, man," Mertz replied. "Definitely that putt. If I spent a little more time on the putting green, I probably wouldn't say that answer. I don't have a lot of time to be on the putting green and the driving range anymore."
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Graham Mertz: Florida Gators have built chemistry playing ... golf?