Given his responsibilities as a professional athlete, first-time All-Star Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics never had much time to pursue a hobby, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NBA into a surprise hibernation in March. Needing a way to fill the hours during the league’s longer-than-expected layoff, Tatum reluctantly agreed to hit a few golf balls with his stepfather during a trip to Florida. For the 22-year-old, it was love at first sight.
“He kind of got hooked,” said Daniel Boisvert, who has taken Tatum under his wing at the KOHR Golf Center in Natick, Massachusetts. “There’s nothing super fancy I’m doing with him. I’m just trying to push him in the right direction. If he hits and practices, he’ll get better.”
Tatum is still in the early stages of his golf development, but he certainly has the raw tools to be a star on the links someday. If Tatum commits himself, Boisvert thinks he could eventually be as good as fellow hoops stars Steph Curry and Ray Allen, both considered exemplary golfers. “He makes half swings at 118 MPH,” Boisvert told Celtics insider Jay King. “So he’s well ahead of [the PGA Tour average] without even really going at it.” When asked to let it rip, Boisvert clocked Tatum’s swing at a blistering 125 mph, faster than long-tenured PGA pro Bubba Watson swung his driver at any point during the 2019 season.
It no doubt helps that Tatum—listed at 6’8”/210—is an enormous human being. What the third-year forward lacks in experience, he more than makes up for with his rare length and exceptional club speed. “Every once in a while he would square one up and he’d hit the crap out of it because he’s got a seven-foot wingspan so he creates a tremendous amount of speed,” noted Boisvert, who has already witnessed the novice golfer smash a bunt driver 315 yards. “He’s obviously a very, very, very good athlete.”
But Tatum isn’t just relying on his God-given athleticism. Tatum has proven to be a quick learner, working tirelessly to improve his technique. Boisvert has seen Tatum’s attention to detail pay immediate dividends. “He’s pretty meticulous about his routine. He’s really good about standing behind the ball, reading his line, going through the same motion,” observed Boisvert. “I’d say in the 10 sessions we’ve had, he’s probably made the progress I would see somebody make in 40 sessions, somewhere around there.”
Though by no means a finished product, it’s clear Tatum has come a long way from three years ago when he was filmed whiffing at a local Topgolf establishment.