Can the Warriors’ Steph Curry play pro golf? The experts shout.

Can the Warriors’ Steph Curry play pro golf?  The experts shout.

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In early July, the NBA’s all-time three-point leader was spotted at a prestigious golf tournament in Tahoe, where he sank a shot from the pin 97 yards from the fairway. Another viral clip was Curry’s golf shot during the NBA season.

Curry actually finished 16th out of 87 players, posting his worst finish in years at the event. He was in the top 11 in each of the last five years.

And the interest in golf goes beyond celebrity events and pro-ams.

He competed twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, a developmental tour equivalent to the NBA’s G-League. Curry posted a pair of 74s in his first year and opened the event with a round of 71 the following year before carding an 86 in the second round.

Despite falling short in both tournaments, the basketball superstar earned the respect of many golfers.

But let’s take it a step further. How does Curry’s game hold up to the strength of the pros? SFGATE asked several golf professionals to weigh in.

Samuel Puryear, head coach of the men’s and women’s teams at Howard University, believes the hardwood hero can do just that.

“I think he’s going to have a chance to make the cut at some point,” Puryear said of putting Curry on the pro tour. It generates a really good amount of club speed through the impact zone and puts a lot of spin on the ball, especially on approach balls. (To Puryear’s optimism, Curry helped create Howard’s golf program and is funding it through 2026.)

Craig White, a PGA coach in Pleasant Hill, agreed, but cautiously.

“I think he definitely has the potential to make the cut,” White said. But, I think he needs a lot more reps and he definitely needs to clean up his game a little bit more at 100 yards and in… a short game area when you light up your PGA Tour pros and score a little bit lower.”

Short game appeared many times.

“The big thing from the amateur golfer to the professional is how many short game shots they have,” says Andrew Larkin, former pro and now head coach at Santa Clara University. He also pointed out that versatility is an important part of making the jump to fans. “As the conditions and demands of the course get tougher, you have to be as good as you can be in your skills. And I think maybe that’s where the next gap will be. With easy pins and easy routines, you can do all the basics on an easy day. If things suddenly get really strong or really windy When you are or good driving control, all kinds of next-level stuff, I think that’s probably what separates him from the pros.

It’s clear to Larkin that the Warriors star is no match for the real world of golf.

“To say I can make it in the G-League is the equivalent of the best guy in your rec league,” Larkin said. But [Steph] It’s a far cry from how good those guys are, although, you know, he’s shown some pretty good flashes of golf.

Cal head coach Walter Chun made a similar comparison.

“It’s like asking Colin Morikawa when he gets into the NBA, how many rebounds, how many points he gets,” Chun said. (Morikawa, a two-time major winner, played for Chun at Calol.) Chun joked that Curry’s performance may depend on where he competes. “Oh, are we talking about the PGA Tour or the LIV Tour?”

Larkin and Chun offered a more objective assessment of Curry, but both praised his play.

“He’s got a really good swing and he’s obviously working hard on refining his mechanics,” Larkin said. He’s basically become a scratch golfer, and you don’t get there without being technically sound.

“He has a strong mental game and that’s what you need to be a good professional golfer,” Chun said of Curry. “You have to be very strong between the ears. And that’s hard to coach, but given Steph’s success on the court with that ‘it’ factor between the ears, I can see him doing really well.”

Despite his laser focus, Curry himself points out that the mental game required of professional golfers is unheard of even compared to his own.

“I know you play a lot of events and sometimes you don’t, but you can recalibrate like that and turn a bad hole into a springboard for a great comeback or a great round,” Curry said on the Drop Zone Podcast in 2015. “I didn’t have that talent in 2019. I had to call y’all or I was out. That level of consistency is just something I’m afraid of.”

Aside from the mental game, other coaches have noted the natural physical skills Curry has developed in basketball and how well they translate to golf.

“He has a natural ability that some people can’t train,” White said. “He has things in his swing that are very difficult to coach if you can coach them in terms of timing, rhythm, timing. Some people can’t find that kind of rhythm and follow it their whole lives.

In addition to his involvement with the Howard golf program, Curry announced the launch of the Underrated Tour, a free tour for college golfers.

“What Steph is doing is creating a world of opportunity for a lot of young people,” Puryear said. “He is giving an opening to a door that was never opened. And now many young people have the opportunity to climb and compete at the highest level.

Curry may not have what it takes to be a professional golfer. But it’s easy to imagine his generosity as a one-man career.

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