Inside Danny Woodhead’s bedroom at his Nebraska home, there’s a patch of carpet completely ruined from repeated golf swings.
A fan-favorite after a successful decade in the National Football League that ended in 2017, the 35-year-old former running back now finds himself so obsessed with golf that his handicap has moved to the pro side of scratch and he’s ruining his house.
On Monday, Woodhead took a big step in his golf journey, qualifying with partner Mike Wilhelm for next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Chambers Bay in Wisconsin.
“It’s as much fun as I’ve had in a long time,” said Woodhead of the successful qualifier at Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln, Nebraska. “I’ve played amateur events in Nebraska for three years and it’s a thrill unlike anything I’ve done. Golf doesn’t come as easy as football for me. People are going to be like ‘yeah right’ but in some ways it’s almost cooler than some of the stuff I’ve done on the football field.”
— #NebGolf (@NGAgolf) October 6, 2020
Some of that stuff on the football field includes setting records in college and scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI for the New England Patriots alongside Tom Brady. Ever heard of them?
“The Super Bowl was awesome to play in, whatever, but this is out of my comfort zone,” he explained. That said, he’d still rather face his partner Mike after a bad hole than legendary coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines after a fumble.
While it’s a lot of golf these days for the retired running back, he also hosts the “Out of Nowhere” podcast with former NFL lineman Matt Slauson where they strive to tell the stories of athletes that fans haven’t heard yet. But back to golf.
Woodhead and Willhelm are both members at Omaha Country Club and have been playing together for three years. The two have a similar game and are comfortable together on the course, which bodes well for their scores.
“We can both go out and get some birdies. That’s what makes four-ball so fun. You can take a lot more chances than you’d usually take,” said Woodhead. “More than anything (Mike is) someone I really like to compete with because he cares about golf like I do, and I feel like not many people do.”
Golf on its own is fun, but the thrill of tournament competition is what drives Woodhead. He absolutely loves it. Every year since he retired he’s set a handicap goal for where he wants his game to be. He’s hit every goal he’s set. So what’s next?
“I always said ‘how sick would it be to play in one of the USGA events.’ Well now I’m going to,” said Woodhead. “So then it just goes to the next thing, hopefully I can get in one of the individual (USGA events).”
Doubted his entire career on the football field, Woodhead continually climbed to reach the NFL and produce at a high level for 10 years. So how much juice is still left in the tank? Plenty. And then some.
“I might be more competitive now than I was when I was playing. That’s what everyone wants to say but I feel like I’m just scratching the surface right now with golf.
“I’m going to get good. I don’t care how long it takes me, I will get good,” Woodhead continued. Consistency comes first. And experience.
It’s something he’s working on. The Nebraska native – who finished T-7 at the state golf association’s Freemont Invitational in July – plays three, maybe four times a week these days. Rarely on weekends. With four kids and a wife at home, Woodhead likes to keep that as family time. His handicap is important but family always comes first.
Woodhead and his wife celebrated their 12-year anniversary earlier this summer. His family’s support is admittedly a big reason for his growing success on the golf course that’ll be displayed for all to see next May at a course that hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2010 and the U.S. Open won by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
“Playing in a national championship as an amateur, that’s cool. I’m excited to experience it with Mike because we’re good buddies,” said Woodhead of next year’s trip to Chambers Bay and the Pacific Northwest.
“I’m not really that nervous because I do think, call me crazy, come May I’m going to be ready for it. I’m going to treat it like I’m freaking Tiger Woods playing in the Masters. I’m going to treat it so I’m playing my best golf then.”