Former NBA guard J.R. Smith is set to make his collegiate golf debut next week for North Carolina A&T State University.
The now 36-year-old hit the headlines when he enrolled at the school over the summer after finishing up his 16-season NBA career and joined the school golf team as a freshman walk on.
North Carolina A&T announced that Smith will play his first collegiate tournament next Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 11-12 at the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Elon. The tournament will take place at the par-71, 6,867-yard Alamance Country Club.
All team golfers must qualify for each tournament in practice unless they finished first or second in the previous tournament. Smith qualified for next week’s tournament by one stroke.
“He has a good enough golf game to put up some good numbers,” N.C. A&T coach Richard Watkins said on the school’s website. “But this is what I tell people. If you want to find out how good a golfer really is, put the word tournament or money in front of the round.
“Playing when there is nothing on the line is one thing. But, put meaning to it, and the heart rate changes. The grip on the club changes, and we get to see who you really are.”
Earlier this summer Smith said he was excited for his new challenge in life having missed out on college after going straight to the NBA from high school.
“Golf is one of those games that has you feeling really high and or can bring you down to your knees and humble you,” Smith said in August. “And to have that feeling and knowing that all of the game’s pretty much on my own hands and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball and receiving passes and playing defense so, I can play my game and just have fun.”