This Sept. 7, 2007 file photo shows Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz throwing against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta. (Associated Press)
John Smoltz spent 22 years as a professional baseball player.
He’ll spend this week as a professional golfer in the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.
Smoltz, who has a plus-2 handicap, received a sponsor’s invitation to participate and is taking this week seriously.
“I just want to see what it’s like,” Smoltz said. “I want to respect the game the way it’s supposed to be respected.
“This is just a one-time opportunity for me, and I hope to do the best I can.”
Smoltz’s participation takes a spot away from one touring professional, but the publicity he brings the South Georgia Classic is a big asset.
“I played baseball growing up and I’d try to hit like Chipper [Jones] and pretended to be Smoltz when I pitched,” said local touring pro Luke List. “It’s amazing how talented of a golfer he is. I’ve seen him play a couple times. He’s a gifted athlete.”
But List isn’t interested in getting starry-eyed. He won’t track down the Braves legend for an autograph or pull out a digital camera.
“He’s going to be busy with other people and he’s going to be playing in the tournament,” List said. “We’re professionals.”
This week Smoltz is a pro golfer.
List is expected to participate in the Chattanooga Classic in October. Tournament director Mickey McCamish would love to have Smoltz at Black Creek Club for the Oct. 6-9 event as well.
“I had a heads-up that he was going to be playing in the [Valdosta] event a few days before it became official, and that led me to try to make it happen here,” McCamish said. “We had the idea last year, and what I’m running into is that he has a baseball broadcasting commitment during our tournament.
“We’ve made inquiries and would love to get him here.”