Rafael Nadal

Tennis Players who play golf

Some say golf and tennis go hand in hand and in terms of ball control the two sports overlap yet many more tennis players play golf, some with scratch handicaps, than golfers who spasmodically pick up a tennis racket. And this is not a recent occurrence, for decades players have swapped tennis rackets for golf clubs – enjoying the tranquility of the sport golf while gracing many a worlds famous golf courses. Words April Tod


Former world number one tennis player Ivan Lendl was already hooked on golf well before his retirement from tennis and determined to make his mark on the pro tour. However, no matter how hard he practiced perfecting his game and once played in the Austrian Open and alongside seasonal pros and could hardly believe the accuracy needed to get anywhere near the top 100 in the world. Nonetheless he still continues to enjoy recreational golf. Whereas Australian tennis phenomenon Ash Barty, a dab hand at several sports including cricket, is also a scratch golfer. Barty surprisingly announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 25 to concentrate on playing competitive golf and last played the Icons Series event before announcing she and husband, Gary was expecting their first child and has put golf on the back burner for the time being.

Ash Barty playing at the ICON Series at Liberty National Golf Club last year

Other former players are less ambitious. The ‘Daddy’ of golf Tim Henman has a better than scratch handicap and once shot 69 at Augusta. He still enjoys playing competitive golf but never once considered joining the pro tour.


Many of today’s top players find hitting golf balls a form of relaxation and play whenever the opportunity arises. Recently, during the Acapulco tournament, the ATP organised ‘a long drive contest’ for players, with some players turning up who were hitting golf balls for the first time and apparently took to the sport like ducks to water producing unbelievable long drives while some of the more experienced golfers appeared to have little trouble reaching the 200 mark. The overall winner of the event was none other than Sabastien Korda with a 278 drive – well, Seb’s two sisters Nellie and Jessica are top golfers on the LPGA tour.

Tim Henman playing at Wentworth

Known as the three Musketeers, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic who have dominated tennis for the past couple of decades also boast low handicaps in golf. Rafa leads the trio with a scratch handicap but then he did start hitting golf balls fin his early teens and has played consistently, and once boasting he never had a golf lesson in his life. Also well-known pet hate of Rafa’s is his aversion to engage in conversations while playing golf.


Novak Djokovic is another player who frequently swaps tennis rackets for golf clubs and readily admits to finding solace on the golf course. Often seen playing golf during Wimbledon he once turned up at a local club dressed in jeans and a baseball hat nonchalantly walking into the club house only to be told by the club’s manager that wearing jeans and baseball hats in the club house were not permitted. An angry Djokovic simply turned tail, jumped into an awaiting chauffeured car and left without hitting a ball in anger.



Former tennis brat, John McEnroe now matured and playing as much golf as he does tennis, was once invited to play The Richmond Golf Club by former doubles partner Peter Fleming, a member and who also invited the club’s general manager to join them knowing he was also a big McEnroe fan. Despite being a stickler for club etiquette, he somehow managed to look the other way whenever Mac became incensed by either his play or the number of trees on the course!

Peter Fleming can often be seen playing at The Richmond Club in Surrey


Not many have heard of 23 year old Casper Ruud currently four in the world but he is also an experienced golfer. As a youngster he was split between the two sports and grew up playing both with equal passion. However, by his thirteenth birthday he was compelled to follow in his father footsteps, a former professional tennis player and relinquish golf for tennis. Recently he fulfilled a childhood dream and played the famous but tough par 72 Winged Foot course in the States finishing a commendable 77 – and that was achieved between playing matches during the US Open Tennis Championships.


The other surprise player who has emerged with hidden golf talents and now regarded as one of ATP’s star golfer is Mardy Fish who made his PGA Tour debut at the recent 3M Open. Other avid golfers include Andy Murray who whenever time permits, plays alongside Sky TV presenters Markus Buckland and Barry Cowan. American Jack Sock, a former top ten player is another golf addict together surprisingly, the Skupski brothers who are equally passionate golfers.

Mardy Fish during the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities


With Wimbledon coming up, watch out South West London there could be a deluge of tennis players chasing tee times on local courses in and around the fortnight leading up to this year’s Championships !