It was a putt so long, Ray Allen almost had to use a full shoulder turn when he struck the ball. The 70-footer made its way toward the hole, taking the slope and somehow disappeared into the cup.
“Ray Allen from downtown!” a fan screamed at the recent Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions near Orlando.
It seemed fitting for Allen to make a putt from long range. After all, the Miami resident is the NBA’s career record holder for 3-pointers made (2,973), 3-point attempts (7,429), 3-pointers made in the playoffs (385) and 3-pointers made in a half of the NBA Finals (seven).
Allen’s shooting skills enabled him to play 18 seasons in the NBA, averaging 16.1 points a game and winning titles with the Boston Celtics (2008) and the Miami Heat (2013). With Miami, he hit a clutch 3-pointer to tie Game 6 with 5.2 seconds left and the Heat went on to beat San Antonio in seven games.
“I played Michael (Jordan)’s course the other day. I played Pine Tree (in Boynton Beach) a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed that. It’s hard to say because there’s not that many great courses in Miami.”
Allen attended the University of Connecticut and was chosen Big East Player of the Year (1995-96) and was drafted fifth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. He also played for Seattle and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Allen could do more than play basketball. He received critical acclaim for his acting abilities while playing basketball prodigy Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s 1998 movie He’s Got Game.
Allen stepped away from the game in 2014, then considered returning two years later but ultimately stayed retired. He spends a lot of time playing golf in celebrity tournaments and with his former NBA buddies. (Allen showed up at the Diamond Resort with a new golf bag from Michael Jordan’s Grove XXIII course in Hobe Sound).
Tee Times columnist Craig Dolch caught up with Allen to talk about his golf game:
What is your favorite course?
Whistling Straits. Each shot you play you feel like you’re in the hole and every shot counts. The hazards and waste bunkers on the Lake Michigan side catch everything. You really have to pay attention to every shot you hit because there is a consequence if you don’t hit a good shot.
What is your favorite course in South Florida?
I played Michael (Jordan)’s course the other day. I played Pine Tree (in Boynton Beach) a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed that. It’s hard to say because there’s not that many great courses in Miami.
What is your handicap?
I’m between a 0 and a 1.
What’s your lowest round and what course?
I shot a 63 at Concord Country Club in Boston. I should have shot a 61 because I three-putted twice. I’m a great putter on fast greens.
What is your favorite club in your bag?
3-iron. I stand over it and I feel with my arc it gives me power. With a 3-iron, I know I have to swing it. I don’t baby it.
How often do you play?
On average 2½ times a week.
What is your golf philosophy and do you have a favorite swing thought?
Shoulder turn is all I think about.
Are you self-taught or did you work with an instructor?
How many holes-in-one have you had and which one is the most memorable?
Four. Everett Country Club in Seattle. I was doing an article after the season for a Seattle newspaper. A friend of mine joined me, the journalist and a photographer. Can you imagine, this is probably the best thing: Someone to talk about it, take a picture and I had a friend there? Seventh hole, about 190 yards, I hit a 7-iron. The editor of the newspaper was in front of us. He let us play through. I even had an audience. I’m afraid to ever play alone because if I have a hole-in-one, nobody believes it. There are people who have lied about it.
When do you start playing golf and become serious about it?
I started playing when I was in college in 1994. I started getting serious around my fourth or fifth year in the NBA. I was just playing in tournaments until then. I started loving and enjoying it. It helped me focus on my basketball game. I started to realize how good I was getting, and it helped me work on the things I needed to work on in basketball.
Who would complete your dream foursome?
It would have to be Tiger (Woods), Martin Luther King and I have to think about the fourth.