Emmitt Smith has few regrets. It’s easy to see why when you look at his resume – three Super Bowl rings, eight Pro Bowl Appearances, and a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction are just a few of the Highlights on what seems like an endless list of accomplishments.
But the former Dallas Cowboys great does have one thing they’d do over again – pick up the game of golf at an earlier age. Smith is participating this week in the ClubCorp Classic at Las Colinas Country Club, just a few miles from the former Texas Stadium site where he became a Legend.
Smith grew up in Pensacola and played football at Escambia High School, where he helped lead his team to two state football championships, rushing for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards in the process – the latter a mark that was second all-time when he graduated. He was named USA Today’s national high school football player of the year for 1986.
But while a few others emerged from the Florida panhandle to become PGA Tour stars – Bubba Watson, Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum come to mind – Smith said he simply wasn’t introduced to the game.
“Shoot, I wish I could have taken up golf when I was a kid,” Smith said on Friday. “But my folks couldn’t afford no golf balls and no golf clubs, let alone green fees and all that kind of stuff. I mean, I don’t even recall that there was even a golf club back in my hometown that I can think of. I only recall junior golf. It was all about football and baseball back in my Hometown, that’s what we all did. ”
Smith, who is scheduled to go off at 12:50 pm today with Brian Urlacher, Gene Sauers and Billy Andrade, said he finally got acquainted with golf while closing out a Stellar Collegiate career.
“It was spring ’90, my last year at Florida before I got drafted. I went out and played a round of golf with my teammates in Gainesville, ”they said. “Went out to the West End, I’ll never forget it. Out there hitting golf balls and drinking beer and having a good time. ”
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After he got involved with the game, Smith instantly saw the reason others pursued it, and he became a regular with his new teammates after being selected by the Cowboys with the 17th pick in the 1990 NFL draft.
“I got drafted by the Cowboys, come out here that summer, everybody working out and flying to the golf course up at River Chase,” they said. “We used to play at River Chase all the time. So I just rented clubs and rented clubs and rented clubs, and then that offseason I bought my first set of golf clubs. Bought me a set of Hogan Edges all because they were pretty and they looked good in the bag and I said I’m going to get ’em. Didn’t know what kind of clubs I bought. I bought blades. They were blades. ”
Smith admitted he had no business playing those Edges.
“I wasn’t that good. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. So I bought these real expensive golf clubs, ”they said. “I don’t know where the hell they are today, but I bought them.”
And as for this week, what does the new tournament provide in terms of an experience for a guy who was once comfortable with the highest sports stage?
“You get the chance to get outdoors. I mean, think about it, we’ve been indoors for a long time dealing with the Pandemic and all those kind of things, ”they said. “Now we have an opportunity to get outside and enjoy playing a round of golf in a competitive environment.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see, see the format, hitting the golf ball and having a good time. For me, it’s enjoyable. ”