I caught up with John Kruk, the easy going, shoot-from-the-hip native of West Virginia, lifetime.300 hitter, and member of ESPN’s baseball broadcast crew, for a five minute chat recently. An avid golfer, Kruk was a star for the Philadelphia Phillies and walked away from the game abruptly after hitting a single while a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 1995, thus securing his place among all-time .300 hitters. One of the more colorful characters in the game, Kruk once traded his uniform number to pitcher Mitch Williams for two cases of beer, and his three weak swings against hard-throwing lefty Randy Johnson in the 1993 All-Star game never fails to delight.
JT: What is you handicap?
JT: Where’s your home course?
JK: When in Connecticut, it is Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford.
JT: How many clubs are you a member of? We heard six?
JK: Possibly six after a potential move—one in Connecticut, two in West Virginia, one in New Jersey, and two in Florida.
JT: How often do you get to play?
JK: Two-to-three days a week, but that will increase in the winter months if I move.
JT: What is your best round ever and where?
JK: I can’t recall, but probably a 69.
JT: When did you take up the game?
JK: In 1995, after I retired.
JT: Any holes-in-one?
JK: Yes, once during Spring Training while playing with Larry Bowa.
JT: What is our favorite course anywhere?
JK: Augusta National.
JT: What is the best thing about your golf game?
JK: I snap hook it with the best of them.
JT: I imagine you can hit it pretty far off the tee?
JK: Not too far…about 280-290 yards. When I first started playing, I could hit a lot longer. When I just finished playing baseball, it was closer to 330 to 340 yards.
JT: What’s your weakness?
JK: Consistency in my set up…sometimes it is open, other times closed.
JT: Why do you enjoy the game?
JK: It is four hours away from everything, being in nature without anything but the game. I’m very big on the rules and etiquette of golf (wearing the appropriate attire, rules to abide by, calling penalties on yourself and it being a gentleman’s game). To me, golf is a way to raise your kids. There is a right way and a wrong way.
JT: How about a favorite moment on a golf course?
JK: Playing at Augusta, we were on the first tee and Arnold Palmer and Dean Smith were there. We had a rain delay, had lunch, and Mr. Palmer came up and talked with us for a while.
JT: What’s your most embarrassing moment on a golf course?
JK: I was playing one day in West Virginia and it was extremely hot. I sweat a lot. My pants were sticking to me. I bent down to pick up a ball and ripped my pants, exposing everything.
JT: Got a dream foursome of pro golfers?
JK: Brittany Lincicome, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer.
JT: How about a dream foursome other than pro golfers?
JK: Kevin James, Ray Romano and “Cheech” Marin.
JT: Who is your favorite professional golfer and why?
JK: Brittany Lincicome, because I get the opportunity to play lot of golf with her and, if not already, I think she is eventually going to be a top five player in the world.
JT: Are there any similarities between baseball and golf?
JK: You wear spikes in both…but, in baseball, I never called a strike on myself. The hand-eye coordination is the only similarity, although you are hitting a moving target in baseball.
JT: Which sport is more difficult to play well?
JK: To me, golf. I could always hit a baseball. In golf, if you mishit a ball you are in trouble. In baseball, you can mishit a ball and still get a hit, or put the ball in play to help your team.
JT: Who is the best golfing baseball player you know?
JK: John Smoltz, based on stories I’ve heard. But I’ve never played with him.