Baseball and golf have always seemed to go together. It seems that if a baseball player isn't on the diamond, chances are he's playing golf.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are some very good golfers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, this year's four-man class includes one of the best baseball-playing golfers in John Smoltz. Smoltz was elected as a member of the Class of 2015, along with Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Craig Biggio.
Smoltz, a member of the Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990s that contained a number of golfers, could arguably be the best living golfer currently in the Hall of Fame -- in fact, we list him as the best. But which other living Hall of Famers can hold their own over the span of 18 holes? Here's our list of 10 of the best recent Baseball Hall of Famers who also play golf. We've tried to organize them based on their skill level using their handicaps with the USGA, news stories and those who have been around these players.
1. John Smoltz. Like we said before, Smoltz is our top-ranked golfer, and for good reason. Entering 2015, he carried a 1.8 handicap at Hawks Ridge Golf Course in Georgia, and some notable highlights of his golf career include him playing on the Nationwide Tour, trying to earn a spot at the U.S. Open and being a regular in celebrity pro-ams. But we're not the only ones who have been impressed with Smoltz on the golf course -- consider these words from Tiger Woods:
"Smoltzy? Well, I had not ever played with an amateur that had ever shot the scores he shot," Woods said to the Orlando Sentinel. "He is a hell of an athlete. He can play basketball. Obviously he was an incredible pitcher. But I think just the way he is able to take that same tenacity into golf is amazing. I've gone out there with him when he's shot 69-67 in the same day … so it's pretty phenomenal."
Still need more proof? Just take a look at his swing, and decide for yourself.
2. Greg Maddux. Another member of the Atlanta Braves
golf teams of the 1990s, Maddux was known for being one of the smartest -- and most dominating -- pitchers in baseball. That skill has translated over to the golf course, and he now owns a 3.9 handicap at three Nevada golf courses. No, he may not be as good as his former teammate, but he's still very good in his own accord.
3. Mike Schmidt. There must be something about playing in the National League East and playing good golf because the former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman is the third player in a row from that division on our list. Back in 2009, Golf Digest ranked him fourth on its list of athlete golfers with a handicap of plus-1.1. So why do we have him third on our list? To put it simply, we have more info on Smoltz and Maddux. But hey, at least Schmidt's main photo on his Wikipedia page is him playing golf.
4. Robin Yount. The former Milwaukee Brewers shortstop almost had a very short baseball career. Back in 1978, amidst a dispute over his position and a contract dispute, Yount threatened to quit baseball at the ripe old age of 22. And it would have been interesting to see what Yount could have done with golf as his full-time sport. At the time, he was a scratch golfer and once shot 2-over at Pebble Beach. Alas, he stuck with baseball and helped the Brewers reach their only World Series in franchise history in 1982.
5. Tom Glavine. The third -- and final -- starting pitcher from the Braves teams of the 90s, Glavine is an exceptional golfer in his own right. The lefty has actually lowered his handicap from last year, and now sports one at 2.8 at two courses in Georgia. The only thing missing from Glavine's golf resume is to see him in some public competition, whether it's on a tour or at a celebrity event.
6. Johnny Bench. As catcher as part of the Cincinnati Reds' 'Big Red Machine' in the 1970s, Bench is considered to be one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game. Turns out he was a pretty good golfer, too. While he no longer plays that often, at his peak he was a scratch golfer and competed in some Champions Tour events back in the early 2000s.
7. George Brett. A third baseman and designated hitter for 20 years with the Kansas City Royals, Brett now works in the front office with the Royals but he can still carries a strong golf game. His handicap is listed at 4.0 at both Mission Hills and Flint Hills in Missouri. As Brett told Golf.com in an interview:
"When I'm home in Kansas City, we play Mission Hills. It's just four hours with friends, and the conversations range from investments, baseball, golf, wine, restaurants, recipes, politics, anything."
8. Ozzie Smith. 'The Wizard of Oz' as he was known as with the St. Louis Cardinals, Smith is a late arrival to the game of golf. Smith only started playing in 1996, the same year he retired from baseball. He now has a 4.3 handicap at both Fort Run and Boone Valley in Missouri, and is now trying to introduce more inner-city kids to golf.
9. Jim Rice. As a member of the Boston Red Sox in the 1980s, Rice was known for his prodigeous power. It should be no surprise that he can also regularly drive a golf ball 300-plus yards. According to a 1979 news article in The Day, Rice hit four drives of at least 300 yards with all of them landing in the fairway. As recently as 2009, there was a story of Rice hitting 300-yard drives with his single-digit handicap.
10. Cal Ripken Jr. Unlike the others on the list, Ripken isn't a frequent visitor to a golf course but still has a pretty solid golf game. Sean English, a PGA Professional at Caves Valley where Ripken will play during the summer, summed up Ripken's game as:
"He is a strong man with great clubhead speed, difficulty with short game shots around the greens."
Ripken does not have a handicap listed at the course -- having only two registered scores from 2006 -- but him and English have talked about starting golf lessons.
Others receiving consideration: Ryne Sandberg (was about a 5-handicap, has played Augusta National and Pebble Beach), Eddie Murray (plays in charity outings, struggles with the short game), Goose Gossage (7 handicap, was nearly deadlly -- literally -- when he first started), Bert Blyleven (4 handicap in 2011), Wade Boggs (doesn't have a USGA handicap in home state of Florida, but he has said he enjoys the game and plays in a Baseball Hall of Fame event), Carlton Fisk (6 handicap in 2011).