For Karl Towns, golf is just another challenge met

 Posted by at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2012
Dec 072012

Highly touted recruit Karl Towns committed to Kentucky on Tuesday. He’ll play basketball, but the golf team could probably use him.
Photo: Newark Star-Ledger

He won’t play for Kentucky for two more years, but the legend of Karl Towns has already reached a level of Sidd Finch proportions.

Accomplished basketball player? He won a state championship as a freshman and was rated the No. 1 player in his class before deciding to skip a season of high school. As a member of John Calipari’s Dominican national team, the 7-footer nailed a three in Anthony Davis’ face.

Politician? He got the votes for freshman class president, and he serves as an ambassador for his school. His duties include persuading the parents of prospective students to send their kids to St. Joseph High.

Good Samaritan? His athletics director likes to tell the story of Towns’ first week at St. Joe’s, when he witnessed a classmate suffer a broken nose during a flag football game. They took the boy to the hospital, but his parents couldn’t leave work to meet him. Karl went instead. Turns out he didn’t even know the kid. He just didn’t want him to be alone.

Is he smart? Forget a 4.0 grade-point average. He’s got a 4.3.

Indy 500 winner? Certified pilot? Nobel laureate? Give the kid time. He’s still got two years of high school, after all.

How about scratch golfer? He’s done that.

Towns said he took up golf in fifth grade. Even at that age, he relished a good challenge.

“Everyone kept talking about how hard it was, and I just wanted to go and prove it would be easy,” he said. “So that’s how I actually started playing golf — to prove people wrong.”

Proving that the sport was easy was one of his few failures.

“Oh no. It’s the hardest sport,” he said. “It’s so difficult. It seems so simple, but it’s the most frustrating sport in the world.”

But that doesn’t keep him from enjoying it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left him and his family without power for two weeks, Towns cleared off an outdoor basketball court near his home so he could get up some shots.

He needed to get away for a little while. That’s the outlet golf provides.

“I just like being out there and playing something outside; that’s so relaxing,” he said. “You get to get away from all the crowd and all the basketball noise and people screaming out plays, and you get to go out on a nice, relaxing golf course. And just play.”

Turns out Calipari messed up his game. Towns said he was a “scratch golfer” — he regularly drives the ball more than 300 yards — before he had to put down the sticks so he could train with the Dominican team.

“I really had no time to even swing a golf club,” he said.

And now, with his high school season about to start, Towns still can’t get much time on the course.

How often does he play these days?

“Not as often as I would like,” he said, echoing the lament of every golfer who ever lived.

Maybe once his basketball career is over, Towns can get that handicap back down. Perhaps he’ll even make a run at the PGA senior tour.

“Nah,” he said. “I think I’ll be like Jordan and just enjoy it.”


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