Elliott Sadler Is NASCAR's Arnold Palmer CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Elliott Sadler is touted as one of NASCAR's next superstars. Not only is he part of the "All-American Sport," but he lives the All-American life. Sadler was a high school sports star...
Elliott Sadler Is NASCAR's Arnold Palmer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Elliott Sadler is touted as one of NASCAR's next superstars. Not only is he part of the "All-American Sport," but he lives the All-American life. Sadler was a high school sports star that was keen on fast cars. The driver of the Phillips 66 Chevrolet was an athletic stand-out in high school, running cross country and playing both basketball and baseball. He even liked to mix it up a bit in a game of football. Amid his athletic passions has been the sport of golf. With his busy racing schedule he doesn't get to shoot hoops or toss the baseball around a lot, but he has managed to keep up on his golf game.
Sadler was an all-state basketball and baseball player. His basketball skills earned him the opportunity to play ball at James Madison University. If it hadn't been for the racing bug, he might be playing in the NBA. In addition to these high school sports, Sadler was a member of the (Brunswick Academy) golf team. Although Sadler had developed into a skilled ball striker, his high school golf team left much to be desired.
"We didn't do too good," Sadler humbly admitted. "I think we all just had too many other things going on to become a real competitive high school golf team."
Just as Sadler's racing roots grow deep, so does his history in the sport of golf. Sadler started playing golf when he was eight years old -- just one year after he had started racing go-karts.
"My dad and brother got me into golf," Sadler recalled. "My dad had been playing golf for a long time and he took me out to the golf course one day. We have a country club at home in Emporia, Va., and we just went out there and started playing, hitting the sticks around.
"We would hit the sticks around at home and really it was my dad who got me interested. He bought me a set of clubs and I've been playing ever since."
What Mr. Sadler did was create a passion in his youngest son. Sadler, always a perfectionist when it comes to sports, has worked diligently on his golf game. Sadler's racing season consists of an endless parade of races and golf tournaments. Currently, Sadler averages a score somewhere in the low 80s and plays with a handicap of 12.
"I didn't get to play a lot of golf earlier this year because I had hurt my back," Sadler said. "The doctor told me if I wanted to get better I needed to limit my activity to just racing so my golf game has suffered a little bit. But, I've been doing pretty good about making up for lost time since July. I've played almost every weekend unless we've had to race on Sunday. I've even played in a couple tournaments during the week."
Sadler's best day on the golf course makes him one of the best golfers in the NASCAR garage. His best days on the golf course might be able to land him a spot on the PGA tour. And just as he's had his best day, he's had his worst.
"The worst day on the golf course for me was the time I had the shanks in the club championship tournament in Emporia," Sadler said, wincing as he recalled the memory. "I shot a 97. That was the most miserable golfing day I ever had in my life."
It's common knowledge that more than a few members of the NASCAR family enjoy a day on the green. When walking through the NASCAR garage one can hear drivers, crew chiefs and crew members carrying on about their most recent outing on the golf course. Sadler says some of his funniest times are striking balls at the golf course with his fellow competitors. Sadler has developed a reputation in the NASCAR garage of being a skilled ball striker. While he doesn't believe the rumors about other drivers arguing over who gets to have Sadler their team, he has become one of the top selections in the golf team drafts.
"I don't believe that anyone gets into an argument when it comes to picking teams, but I have been playing a long time so I guess I have a pretty good game going," Sadler said. "It's not too bad and I have fun doing it. I like doing the benefits and playing ball with guys like Randy Lajoie and Mike Dillon. We have a great time doing that so that's always fun."
And if Sadler had to pick someone in particular that he likes to play with?
"Randy," Sadler said without hesitation. "I love playing with Randy because he has all the new club rules and he likes to kick it around a little bit.
While Sadler takes the sport of golf very serious, he isn't afraid to goof off and do things which might detract from the sport. After all, boys will be boys.
"I flipped a golf cart one time," Sadler said. "It was me and a buddy from back home and we flipped a golf cart while playing in South Boston, Va. We were going down hill and the cart had no top on it. I was trying to spin out and the tire dug in and flipped the cart. It flipped us and everything in it. We were real close to the water and golf balls, clubs and everything went into the fairway and almost into the water."
Instead of allowing himself and his buddy to get in trouble for wrecking the golf cart, he did what any All-American guy would do -- stretched the truth.
"We pushed the cart back up about 100 yards and told the office that it broke," he grinned. "They gave us our money back."
When asked what is his favorite part of the sport, Sadler had a hard time pinpointing one aspect, but finally admitted it was the atmosphere.
"I just like sports so much that I guess it's the competitiveness and the companionship," he said. "You get a lot of companionship because more people can play golf together. It's a real nice sport and you're not trying to pull against anybody or anything like that. It's just real relaxing."