AUGUSTA – Bulldogs are scattered throughout the ranks of golf, some at the highest of levels. And it turns out that is one of the lesser known perks of being the head football coach at UGA.
Kirby Smart’s predecessor had little use for some 18-hole diversion, but the new guy kind of digs it. As he recently told DawgNation’s Chip Towers: "I love golf.
“I don't play much anymore. Even when I have down time I don't get to play much anymore. I mean, I've got three kids and it's just not fair to go play a four-hour round. Now my Dad loves golf, too, so the time I spend with my dad is when I play golf.”
So, during some scarce down time early this spring, when Smart wanted to share some quality time with dad in Florida, he called former Bulldog Kevin Kisner for help. And just like that, the Smarts had a tee time at Arnie’s place in Orlando, Bay Hill.
There are four former Bulldogs playing this week at the Masters. They are Bubba Watson, Kisner, Chris Kirk and Harris English. That doesn’t include Patrick Reed, who transferred out under less than ideal circumstances.
Smart has played Augusta National once before, years ago after first arriving at Alabama as an assistant. He shouldn’t have much trouble getting on again, given the hierarchy.
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne was an all-SEC defensive end at Georgia in 1968. Payne’s son, W. Porter Payne, and Smart were fraternity brothers. Needless to say, Smart will not suffer for a hook up when he gets the urge to play a round and perhaps enjoy a club sandwich on the veranda.
And getting a Masters badge would never be a problem - and if only the SEC would scrap this silly idea of practicing football in April, he could actually attend the tournament someday.
But this is spring practice, and football coaches being football coaches, Smart has trouble just talking about golf now.
In the end, he could not resist reverting to the single-minded leader of young men.
"My goal right now, and I'm being dead honest with you, is to win football games,” he told Towers. “I'm not worried about playing Augusta National. (But) if I get the opportunity to, I want to. Yes."