Jermaine Kearse of the Seattle Seahawks has brought his skills as a wide receiver to the task of working on his swing.
It’s fairly well known how Jermaine Kearse started his NFL career as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Washington. How he spent most of his first year on the practice squad of the Seahawks, but from there developed quickly into a starting receiver and then played a big role in Seattle’s back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
For his rags-to-riches story, he credits hard work, determination and listening to his coaches.
The same approach is working well for his golf game.
Kearse started playing golf seriously three years ago, and now sports a 12.7 Handicap Index. He plays in several charity fundraisers and pro-ams during the off-season, and has even played in the WSGA Parent-Child Championship.
“I kind of went to the driving range when I was in college, but we never got on the course much,” Kearse said of his days with the Huskies.
“Once we got on the course, and once you hit one good shot, then it’s kind of ‘All right.’ Then you have to repeat that. It’s a challenge to play consistently well,” said the 26-year-old.
It’s a challenge he met head on and conquered in developing his NFL career, realizing you can “never get complacent with your game” when it comes to football.
He’s taking the same approach to golf, and getting assistance from teaching professional Brian Mogg. They share a similar background, growing up in the same area of Lakewood, Wash. and both attending Lakes High School. Mogg now runs the Brian Mogg Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., but comes out to Chambers Bay numerous times a year to put on clinics. It was on these trips to the Northwest that he started working with some other Seahawks, and then Kearse.
“He’s a really good student,” Mogg said recently of Kearse. “If you give him something to work on, he digs right into it. He’s super diligent about working on his swing. He’s incredibly disciplined, which I’m sure is why he’s a good football player. Just this morning, he sent me a video of his swing. Tuesday is an off-day during the football season, so he played golf and wanted to show me how he’s doing and asked what he can be working on.”
Kearse said he doesn’t play much during the football season. He’ll go to the driving range occasionally if his body is not in too much pain, and the bye week offers a chance to play, but that’s about it.
Still, certain aspects of golf and football are similar, and lessons from each sport are valuable in the other.
“On the mental side, it’s very beneficial, I think,” Kearse said. “Like in golf, if you have a bad shot, you can’t sit there and worry about that shot. You have to kind of make up for it, get re-focused, focus on the next task at hand.”
That’s exactly what Kearse did before probably the biggest catch in his NFL career. In the Seahawks’ NFC title game against Green Bay at the end of the 2014 season, Russell Wilson threw five passes toward Kearse before the game went into overtime. Four of those passes were intercepted and the fifth was incomplete. But on the next pass thrown to him, Kearse came up with the tremendous catch for a 35-yard score in overtime that sent Seattle to a 28-22 victory and a second consecutive Super Bowl.
Mogg says golf is beneficial to Kearse in other ways as well.
“He is very aware that golf is a healthy diversion during the offseason, so he’s not really too obsessive about it,” Mogg said. “He’s just a typical golf junkie, like anyone who wants to work on his game.”
And how was his game when he first came to Mogg?
“When I first met him, his swing was like John Daly’s – a huge backswing, always throwing himself off balance,” Mogg said.
But Kearse has found a nice balance in playing both games.