For Bears quarterback, golf is second love

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

Bears QB Chris ChandlerCHICAGO -- There's a bit of an issue at the home of Chicago Bears quarterback Chris Chandler. It's a touchy issue, you see. And it's one the 37-year-old NFL veteran admits his wife, Diane, gets a little perturbed about.

"Frankly," he says, "my wife gets sick of it."

The issue is golf. Well, more specifically, The Golf Channel.

"I watch quite a bit of it," says Chandler. "Not the infomercial stuff, but I'll watch Golf Channel Academy and all the other stuff. In fact, I watch The Golf Channel before I watch (ESPN) SportsCenter."

Chris Chandler is a certified golf nut. He got hooked when he was 10-years old after playing 9-holes with his father and getting that first solid, sweet spot hit. From that moment he knew he was in love.

"I didn't play a lot in college. Too much school and football, but once I got into the NFL and had a little more time, and money, I starting trying to improve and get better, " says Chandler.

And he did get better. In fact, he's pretty good. Chandler scores regularly in the 70s, and when he gets a chance to talk about the game, even with a golf writer, he does it with a lot of passion.

"I'll really start trying to play more in March, and I can't wait."

Bears QB Chris Chandler Other than a couple of family trips, Chris stays in the Chicago area after the season because his three daughters - ages 7, 6 and 4 - are in school. But once the wicked Midwest winter weather stabilizes, he's out there letting it fly and he does it quite a bit with some of his football teammates.

"I've only played with (Bears head coach Dick Jauron) once. We played in a tournament for charity at Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club. But I play with Urlacher (Brian) and Patrick Mannelly (tackle) a lot," says Chandler. "Urlacher is as nuts about the game as me."

Bears middle linebacker, Brian Urlacher, recently has taken up golf and apparently is head-over-spikes about it. Chandler says Brian's got a new set of irons; he's taking lessons and shoots in the 80s most of the time.

So when the Bears let loose on the links, are there some of those Michael Jordan money games going on?

"No. We're not that crazy," says the QB.

Right now Chris is trying to put together a trip with some buddies to Ireland to play golf. He's never been there and keeps hearing about the spectacular courses and the beautiful scenery. Thing is, he can't seem to lock in a good time to go. Football, he says, has become year-round work.

But in 1999, the year he went to the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons, Chris was able to get away for the most memorable golf experience of his life.

"I got an invite to Augusta; an overnight stay. And it was more awesome than you can believe."

Chris took his father-in-law, famed San Francisco 49ers quarterback and former NBC sportscaster, John Brodie with him and played 45 holes on the "big course", as he calls it, and got out on Augusta National's par-3 course too.

"To share the experience with Brodie was very special. I shot 74 and eagled 15. There is just nothing better than that place."

And what about women being members at "that place"? Chris doesn't hesitate.

"In a perfect world, women ought to be members. But you can't force these things."

Chris has played some great courses around the country, but admits he really loves the courses back home in the Midwest the best - playing regularly at private Butler National Country Club outside Chicago and at Kemper Lakes and The Glen Club. He hopes to play Olympia Fields this spring before the U.S. Open.

"Chicago golf is very impressive," he says. "So many courses are just stellar."

And what about everything else in the game of golf? Where does Chris stand? "Just go ahead and ask," he says.

Tiger or Jack?

"Tiger"

Palmer or Jack?

"Palmer. He is the classiest, coolest guy. I had a chance to meet Arnold and he is my absolute favorite."

Annika or Karrie?

"Annika"

Regular putter or broom handle?

"Regular"

Cart or carry?

"Carry. With a caddie."

Masters or U.S. Open?

"Masters"

And what's in Chris' bag?

Titleist Forged 690MB irons, Cleveland sand wedge, Titleist Vokey lob wedge, Scotty Cameron Pro Platinum putter, Ping ISI Driver (8.5 degrees), and two three woods - Titleist PT Fairway Wood, 13-degree and Cobra Fairway Metal with the brass insert, 15-degree.

Dave BernerDave Berner, Senior Contributor

Dave Berner is a long-time journalist for CBS radio in Chicago and has freelanced for CNN, National Public Radio, and ABC news. He created and produced the popular radio feature "The Golf Minute" for CBS-owned radio station WMAQ in Chicago along with writing a regular column for Golf Chicago Magazine. He is also author of "Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons" and "Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed." Follow Berner on Twitter @DavidWBerner


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