John Smoltz to play in Nationwide PGA event in Valdosta (UPDATED)

Get used to this scene. John Smoltz just received a sponsor's exemption into his first PGA co-sanctioned event.

Get used to this scene. John Smoltz just accepted an invitation into his first Nationwide event. (Erik S. Lesser/Special)

(UPDATED: 5:45 p.m. I just spoke by phone to John Smoltz and updated this blog with his comments.)

John Smoltz has been talking about playing professional golf since long before he ever retired from baseball. The opportunity just arrived.

Smoltz has accepted a sponsor’s invitation to play in the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic April 28-May 1 at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta.

“A guy contacted me last year about doing this and I told him I’d love to but I had to wait and see what my TV commitments were,” said Smoltz, who a color commentator on baseball broadcasts for TBS and MLB. “When the schedule came out, everything just fell into place. I understand the whole process. This is just something I want to try right now. I’ve said all along that I don’t want to do this the wrong way and take spots [with sponsor exemptions] from people who are trying to have a career. But I want to see where it’s like. I’m preparing for it as much as I can.”

The last time I saw Smoltz on a golf course was at the Marietta Country Club last May when he  failed in a long-shot attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open. “Back to the putting green,” he cracked afterward.

This time, he didn’t have to qualify for a tournament, thanks to the exemption. The Nationwide Tour is a legitimate circuit and sort of the Triple A for the PGA Tour. This will be the first time Smoltz competes in a PGA Tour co-sanctioned event.

I told Smoltz that I wanted to caddy. He said I was the third to ask but I’ve got a shot.

“You’re in the running,” he said. “What’s that line from Dumb and Dumber? I’m telling you that you’ve got a chance.”

Could I help him much on the course? No. But I promised four hours of daily entertainment — especially if he’s nowhere close to making the cut on Friday.

“I don’t doubt that,” he said, laughing. “The thought did come to me that this could quite embarrassing. I hope to make a good showing. ”

Smoltz, one of the Braves’ all-time greatest pitchers and a likely Hall of Famer with 213 wins, 154 saves and a Cy Young, transitioned into broadcasting last year following retirement. He will play in at least five events this year, including Michael Jordan’s celebrity weekend event for charity in Las Vegas in two weeks (Smoltz will be partnered with Julius Erving), and a two-man, best ball event in Scottsdale, Arizona in mid-April.

He has said on several occasions that he would like to compete one day on the Champions (formerly Seniors) Tour. He’ll have to wait a little while. Smoltz is 44, and that tour’s minimum age is 50. So this is sort of like spring training.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

58 comments Add your comment

always high

March 16th, 2011
2:14 pm

Smoltzie’s a ringer!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 16th, 2011
2:17 pm

barkley may be his caddie

Jeff Schultz

March 16th, 2011
2:21 pm

Barkley and Smoltz. Hah! That would be great theater.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 16th, 2011
2:24 pm

I would make the hour drive to valdosta and pay to see them on the course together.
i know it wouldn’t be turrible

joe

March 16th, 2011
2:24 pm

Smoltz is guaranteed to get a hole in one…of his socks…

Rock Star from Mars

March 16th, 2011
2:33 pm

Gnat City Babybeeeeee

Valdostan from Nowhere

March 16th, 2011
2:34 pm

Jeff, I can’t believe you would come down here to Nowhere
to caddy for Smoltzie.
I hope you do, so I can follow you and help you with your
yardages and reads.

tim

March 16th, 2011
2:46 pm

BOOOO…….Smoltz IS taking someones spot. If Smoltz wants to play pro then he should qualify like everyone else. He shouldn’t get a pass cuz he threw a baseball.

Drudge Report

March 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

He was a great Brave. One of the best.

lanier

March 16th, 2011
2:51 pm

go for it Schultz it would be a blast

Buzz

March 16th, 2011
2:52 pm

Great course, He isn’t taking someones spot. It’s a “sponsors (spot) exemption” which is given to someoe who will usually help bring publicity to the tournament and giving it to Smoltzie has done just what the tournament wants!!! He wont make the cut but he’ll play in pro-am and be a hot draw for that. Play round one and two, maybe selling some extra tickets or getting some people out there to watch. Good luck Smoltzie Mr. Hawks Ridge!!!!

Buckeye

March 16th, 2011
2:56 pm

shankit

March 16th, 2011
2:57 pm

Smoltz should do okay. Kinderlous is long, but
Smoltz should be able to cut most of the dog
legs which will shorten his course and give him
an advantage.

Paul H

March 16th, 2011
3:09 pm

Jeff, I think you should seriously try to be his caddy. You could have a live blog going between holes.

BT

March 16th, 2011
3:21 pm

If you’ve seen or played Kinderlou you would pull the caddie offer. That course is a monster and not very flat to be in South Georgia. This gives me a reason to go to Valdosta to watch this tournament. I can’t wait.

D A DoubleU G

March 16th, 2011
3:23 pm

Get the “pro” golfing twitch out of your system Smoltzie. Once you are done with that, you will be needed as the Pitching Coach down at The Ted.

It will not take you long to realize spending a month and a half in Orlando every spring and traveling the country all summer long will let you play as much casual golf as you want.

Either call me, or Frank Wren when you are ready, Smoltzie. Get my number from Schultz if you don’t have it……..

The Original WDE

March 16th, 2011
3:36 pm

Buzz

March 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

I would NEVER carry a bag on that course!!!! Jeff you better reconsider! Carrying the 4th, 9 green to 10th tee, 17 green to 18 green, those holes are brutal for walkers!!!

Tom Glavine

March 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

I’m gonna caddy for my buddy and will be wearing a Mets cap while doing so.

Stinger2

March 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

Is Smoltz going to wear shorts like he is in the picture or will he dress in proper PGA attire? He needs to get some coaching about tour wardrobes before he plays in a tour event.

PMC

March 16th, 2011
4:05 pm

Would love to see him beat Tiger in a sanctioned tournament.

luv them braves

March 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

He’ll shoot 83 – 77.
“Two rounds and Greyhound” as they used to say!
He’ll draw some extra spectators and create some national interest. More beneficial than some “hanger on’ that is struggling to get into the field at a Nationwide event.

blazerpunter

March 16th, 2011
4:21 pm

The course he is going to play is BEAUTIFUL!! I have played it several times and it is very challenging and will be interesting to see what he can do with it!!

GO BRAVES!!!

fla dawg

March 16th, 2011
4:34 pm

I thought Joe had the stupidest post on here until I read stinger2, now it is a toss up. what do you think D A Double U G?

mpatl

March 16th, 2011
4:47 pm

Smoltz played in the Georgia Open last August in Savannah. He made the cut and finished T-29 at one under par 287 for four rounds.

He also made 16 birdies, 2 eagles, and a hole-in one over the course of four rounds. He can it a mile and is a great athlete.

mpatl

March 16th, 2011
4:48 pm

skip

March 16th, 2011
5:08 pm

Hey, he’s a good country club player, but no way he makes the cut in a pro tournament.

Keeper

March 16th, 2011
5:11 pm

Great Davis Love course. If Smoltz was smart, he’d ask Mark Love – who’s not only a great part-time caddy (was on the bag when Davis won the PGA Championship), but also head of Davis’ course design company.

Jeff Schultz

March 16th, 2011
5:21 pm

Valdostan from Nowhere — I have a daughter who goes to school there, too.

Jeff Schultz

March 16th, 2011
5:22 pm

Paul H — “You could have a live blog going between holes.” … That would AWESOME!

Jeff Schultz

March 16th, 2011
5:23 pm

PMC — He might be able to beat Tiger right about now.

blazerdawg

March 16th, 2011
5:28 pm

Wonderful course – Smoltz playing is a great reason to visit a cool town.

DP

March 16th, 2011
5:42 pm

Make sure Smoltz knows he can’t carry 15 clubs, doesn’t get two off the first tee, has to putt them all out and there isn’t a double bogey max. He’s a good club player but has no business competing with the big boys.

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Why...........

March 16th, 2011
6:03 pm

are y’all acting like this Nationwide event is the frickin masters?

@DP, Smoltzie knows all that condescending crap you mentioned. @

Stinger, you’re a tool.

Delbert D.

March 16th, 2011
6:52 pm

Got to lose the shorts, Smoltzie.

JSS

March 16th, 2011
7:27 pm

He’s plays with Tiger regularly, he’s knows better…

@ Jeff Schultz…
You could check on the prodigy; but are they still sensitive about you in those parts?

Jeff Schultz

March 16th, 2011
7:49 pm

JSS — I was there 2 weeks ago and didn’t get shot at. So I guess I’m in the clear.

Rip

March 16th, 2011
8:25 pm

Dear John,
You are taking a Spot that you have not earned nor do you deserve. Having the nerve to accept this just shows what a Cocky, Arrogant and Selfish person you are. If you had any self respect you would pay the $350 like so many of us have done time and time again and go try to qualify like everyone else does. Then again, you are probably scared of throwing up more Hockey sticks like you have done so many times before. Let me know if you would like a “real match” for some “Major League Cash”!!! I am available anytime, anywhere….including your preferred Hawks Ridge. Just let Ryan behind the counter know it’s the guy that shot 62 from the rails last Summer when the greens were roasted and they were throwing ice on em! Good Luck on breaking those Hockey Sticks at the 7700 yard Kinderlou! Ha what a joke!

JSS

March 16th, 2011
8:44 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
Good to know, just be careful where you flash the plastic ;-)

Trapper John

March 16th, 2011
9:23 pm

With a tan like that — I’d lose the shorts as well. I’ll help caddy Jeff. My daughter goes to VSU and I am going to be there! Would not have known about this if you had not related it. Thanks a million!! And you better show up. What a great way to spend a few days…..

GolfFan

March 16th, 2011
9:52 pm

Wow Jeff, very low interaction on this story. Trash the Dawgs you get more hits.

Worm

March 16th, 2011
10:01 pm

Smoltz, go back to Hawk’s Ridge..My friend is always willing to bet 10 grand that you can’t break par there.

peephole

March 16th, 2011
11:19 pm

Get used to what?

Snake Doc

March 17th, 2011
8:25 am

Smoltz does have a chance to make the cut. If you saw him on Trump’s World of Golf, then you know, Smoltz has game!

Snake Doc

March 17th, 2011
8:27 am

Some of you boneheads who comment on these blogs are jealous, envious ignoranus’s!

bruce

March 17th, 2011
8:27 am

wierd photo, presumably standint on a green near the flag, but holding what appears to be an iron and more than one golf ball in his hand

ex-brave fan

March 17th, 2011
9:07 am

Jeff,

Why should you get a “free pass” to play? You should qualify like everyone else. I am sure you be the first to go to the players union if someone was offered to pitch and knocked you out of a game!

Dont’t be such a spoiled brat !!!! You throw as much bull as you did baseballs

Bubba

March 17th, 2011
9:19 am

Kinderlou is a monster…especially from the back tees. He better bring his A game…plus some.

BT

March 17th, 2011
9:30 am

You guys are out of your mind. It is a sponsors invite. The sponsor is going to ask the person who they think will bring the most attention to the tournament. Do you think they would invite Joe golfer who no one knows about when they can get Smoltzie. I think it is a great move and it will bring a lot more money to some very worthy charities.