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18 holes with ... Jonathan Ogden

Hall of Fame electee a man of big drives, big appetite

Teddy Greenstein

On Colleges, On Golf

5:26 PM EDT, May 4, 2013

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LAS VEGAS — Jonathan Ogden once lectured a young Tommie Harris during a Ravens-Bears game.

"He was a rookie mouthing off," Ogden recalled. "I said, 'Hey, man, you haven't done anything in the league yet. It's unbecoming.' "

Unbecoming?

Harris nodded. "You're right," he said.

Ogden has an agreeable personality that puts everyone around him at ease. You almost could forget he made a career of turning 300-pound men into dust mites.

Ogden has an extensive vocabulary but won't be verbose when he delivers his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement speech Aug. 3. His plan: "Stick to the script. Be concise. Don't ramble."

Ogden can laugh at himself, saying he's a "mental midget" after leaving birdie putts short on the first two holes at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

Yes, he's a 6-foot-9, 350-pound midget who wears 4XL shirts and has a "46ish"-inch waist.

As a boy growing up in Washington, D.C., he was too big for football. His mother didn't let him play because he would have had to line up against kids two years his senior.

As an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, some teammates joked that his head was too big for his helmet.

"My cheeks did puff out a bit," he acknowledged. "Hey, it's not a beauty contest."

Now, even though he's a 6-handicap who effortlessly ripped his first drive 320 yards, Ogden said the game is not kind to large specimens.

"It's hard enough being tall," he said. "It's hard enough being big. You throw them together …"

Ogden lives on a golf course in Henderson, Nev., where the original residential appeal was no state income tax.

Despite my offer to plunk down some chips, we played for nothing but pride.

"You live in this town," he said, "you learn not to gamble. You can't really win."

Our round took place March 27, a little more than a week before Ogden teed it up at the 12th Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational, which has generated more than $6 million for charities.

Ogden's career best is a 73, but he played in the Lake Tahoe celebrity event three times and recalled being petrified on the first tee. He said he wished he could have told the spectators, "Look at something else."

His game, he said, is a mix of "some really good shots and some 'where did that come from?' shots."

Or as he later put it: "This is golf. (Stuff) switches up."

Ogden banged one 332 yards on the fourth hole, and he made a nice birdie on No. 5, hitting an 8-iron into the 165-yard hole.

But after hooking a tee shot on the 10th, Ogden said, "I think yoga fatigue is starting to kick in."

His day started with an hour of hot yoga, a concession to this predicament: "I like food; that's my problem."

If he ever stopped caring, Ogden said he would go to the seafood buffet at the Rio and "go to town on shrimp and crab legs with butter — and put butter on top of that."

Like showgirls, Shadow Creek is quintessential Vegas. For years after its 1989 opening, only "whales" (aka huge gamblers) and friends of casino magnate Steve Wynn were permitted to play. Now you need $500 and a key card to one of the MGM Resort Hotels.

Ranked by Golf Digest as America's 29th greatest course and featuring waterfalls, rolling hillsides and more than 200 varieties of trees, Shadow Creek is a marvel that was built for somewhere between $46 million and Bill Gates' net worth.

"The story that gets told," course architect Tom Fazio said, "is that we had an unlimited budget and exceeded it."

While taking care of business in the men's room, you can scan a sheet heralding Tiger Woods' course record of 60, accomplished in 2004. Three years later, Fred Couples matched it. His sheet contains this quote: "Make sure you put this above the urinals next to Tiger's course record."

The record is still safe after Ogden's performance in the Jordan event. He teamed with actor/comedian Rob Riggle ("The Daily Show") in a two-man scramble and finished a collective 9 over par, 20 shots behind winners Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman.

The culprit had to be a driver head cover of Brian, the dog from "Family Guy." Press Brian and he'll say stuff like "Swing and a miss."

As Ogden put it: "I'm going to blame Brian. He was heckling me all day."

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

18 holes with ... Jonathan Ogden

Five-second bio: Rated by the NFL Network as the 72nd-greatest player in NFL history, the Hall of Fame-bound left tackle helped the Ravens triumph in Super Bowl XXXV.

Where: Shadow Creek, Las Vegas (regular tees: 6,626 yards).

Ogden's handicap: 6.

What he shot: 81.

His take on golf: "It's enjoyable, but it's not relaxing."