So this NFL rookie kicker walks into a pro shop …
Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? But if a Josh Scobee movie was ever made, that would be the very first golf scene.
At one point, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ all-time leading scorer was the top-ranked golfer from another sport. So he sat down and talked about the similarities (and differences) between kicking and golf, the football mulligan he would like and more.
Collins: You’ve tried to qualify for the U.S. Open … When did golf become more than just a hobby for you?
Scobee: It probably was around 2009. I was right around scratch [meaning a low, low handicap] and had never played a single tournament round. So I found out about U.S. Open qualifying and I signed up not knowing what I was getting myself into. I signed up and looked at the field that I was going to be competing against. I recognized a name in there — Brian Harman. He was playing right behind me. And I’m like, “Yeah, I think he’s [a] pretty good player. I think he’s at Georgia.”
I think I ended up shooting 81 — or something like that. And at that point, I was like, “You know what? That wasn’t too bad for my first qualifying round.” Obviously that didn’t qualify.
Brian was one of the guys that ended up getting through. He was like 5 under. And that’s when I figured that getting beat by 15 shots is probably not going to cut it. That was the first one and I really got addicted to wanting to do more qualifiers.
Collins: But you started playing tournaments, too.
Scobee: I wanted to play more fun tournaments, ones I knew that I had an opportunity to win. And the first one that popped up was a tournament that [NFL quarterback] Drew Brees used to host out in San Diego. It was just called the “Celebrity Championship.” I played in it and got into the final pairing with [former MLB pitcher] Rick Rhoden and ended up winning the tournament by birdieing the last two holes to beat him by one. Then I won the next year, playing against [former tennis pro] Mardy Fish and [former MLB pitcher] Mark Mulder in the final [group]. So that kind of got my celebrity golf mojo rolling.
Collins: Is there a part of you that thinks about PGA Tour Champions when you’re 50?
Scobee: Oh, absolutely. I have 11-plus years to think about that. At the same time, I understand how difficult it would be because it’s not like these guys, once they turn 50, are just old and decrepit. These guys are still going out and shooting 5,6, 7 under in their sleep. Once I get to that age … yeah, I will aspire to do that.
In terms of the PGA Tour? Absolutely not. There’s no aspiration or dream for that because I’ve played with them and against them here in Jacksonville. Even the guys that are considered on a second or third tier compared to the top-level tour players, these guys are capable every single day of walking out and shooting 8 under like it’s nothing. I’ve seen casual 64s and the occasional 9 or 10 under where [the player] probably left a couple shots out there. When I have my best of the best days, that’s what it might be.
So trying to compete against them at that high of a level and doing it on an actual tour on a week-to-week basis is not something that I aspire to do or even thinking about because I know how good those guys are.
Collins: Is there a football comparison?
Scobee: It would be like a middle school kicker saying, “Yeah, I could go pro right now against those guys. I can go out and make an NFL team, make a difference.” There’s just a huge gap.
Collins: How did golf find you?
Scobee: I would say by the grace of God — and the grace [of] my wife! I didn’t start playing golf until I was a rookie in the NFL. And it was because of my wife and her dad, who was a college golfer. He bought me lessons one year for Christmas and just got me obsessed with it. Fortunately, getting drafted to the Jaguars meant I was in golf heaven here in Jacksonville.
Collins: Did you know right away that you were addicted?
Scobee: Oh, I knew right away. I might have shot 110 that day, but it was one shot. I can remember it.
I was playing with a buddy of mine at Windsor Parke Golf Club in Jacksonville, that’s where I started playing golf. This group on a par-4 was letting us play through. Of course, I pumped my ball in the woods on the right. They’re waiting on the side of the green for us to play through. I had about 150 yards from the trees and I holed it! That was [the] shot where I’m like, “OK, this is a lot of fun.”
That shot made me want to come back the next day after [Jaguars] practice, then the next day after practice. It just got me obsessed. That’s the beauty of golf. It can take one shot that just makes you want come back the next day.