Pitchers play golf

Former Major League pitchers, from left, Barry Enright, Russ Ortiz, Mark Mulder and Kyle Lohse loosen up with a few swings on the driving range before playing a round Monday morning at Laughlin Ranch Golf Course. The four flew into Bullhead City specifically to play on the course.

BULLHEAD CITY — If there’s anything that Major League Baseball players take seriously, besides baseball, it’s probably golf.

Four ex-pitchers, with a combined 41 seasons and 370 wins in their big-league past, proved that Monday with a visit to Laughlin Ranch Golf Course in Bullhead City.

“At first, it was just going to be me and Barry (Enright),” said Russ Ortiz, explaining the foursome that also included Mark Mulder and Kyle Lohse. “We were just going to come in and play against each other. Then we added the other guys. We were all pitchers. We’re all really good golfers. That just made it more of a big deal.”

Mulder and Lohse prevailed in the match-play format, beating Ortiz and Enright 2-up — winning two more holes than the opposing team through the 18-hole round.

JC Wright, general manager of Laughlin Ranch Golf Course, made the outing possible. Friends with Ortiz and Enright — both of whom were on the Arizona Diamondbacks at one time — Wright said he met a lot of MLB players while running a golf course in the Scottsdale, Arizona, area.

“I’ve known JC a number of years,” Ortiz said. “He said ‘You guys should come up here and play.’ ”

“Pitchers love to play golf, it seems,” Wright said. “And they’re competitive.”

“It’s part of our DNA,” Ortiz said of the competitive streak.

On Monday, there wasn’t much on the line — “except for bragging rights,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz was 113-89 in a 12-year MLB career with five teams — including two stints each with the Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants.

Enright, the Diamondbacks’ second-round selection in the 2007 amateur draft, was in pro baseball for 10 seasons, four in the majors with two-year stints at both Arizona and the Los Angeles Angels. He’s beginning his first season in coaching, serving as pitching coach for the Hillsboro (Oregon) Hops, a short-season Class A affiliate of the Diamondbacks. He reports to that new job today, which is why the foursome decided it was Monday-or-never for the match-play duel at Laughlin Ranch.

Mulder was 103-60 in nine seasons, pitching for the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals. Lohse went 147-143 in 16 seasons with seven teams. He and Mulder were St. Louis teammates in 2008.

Ortiz, now a scatch golfer, said he found that the only way to become good was to play frequently.

“I’ve only played a couple of times (this year),” he said. “I played 40 rounds last year. That’s the most I’ve ever played. I make sure I play as much as I can so I can keep getting better. I don’t like playing bad golf.”

None of the foursome do. Both Lohse and Mulder described their games as between scratch and a 2-handicap. Enright carries a 3-handicap.

Lohse said he didn’t take up golf until he was an adult, joining a litany of pitchers who dabble to varying degrees of success on the links between starts.

“I didn’t play (golf) as a kid,” he said. “But once I got started, I fell in love with it. I love the grind of it all, just like pitching in baseball.”

He said he plays “a lot more than most people” now.

“I recently retired,” Lohse said. “There’s not a lot on my plate right now.”

Mulder said he played “about 100 rounds last year,” all Monday through Thursday. As the father of three children, weekends are spent on family pursuits.

“You find a balance and make it work,” he said.

After a couple of years in broadcasting following his playing days, Mulder said he now has no direct ties to baseball for the first time in his adult life.

“I follow it, but now that I’m not in broadcasting, not that close,” he said. “Because I don’t have to. There’s too much other stuff going on, to be honest.”

Enright said he played two to four times a week until recently. He had been focusing on his future — to pitch or to coach — before ultimately deciding in January to retire from the former and concentrate on the latter.

“I’m 32,” he said. “I still debated on playing. But I decided it was time to transition into other things.”

While there are obvious differences between golf and baseball, the biggest bonus to Enright is that golf “is a lot easier on your body.”

While Lohse and Mulder won the bragging rights, Lohse pointed out that the bragging isn’t always only for the victor.

“Adam Wainwright and I played six or seven times,” he said. Wainwright, preparing for his 14th season with the Cardinals, was Lohse’s ultra-competitive teammate during Lohse’s five-year stint in St. Louis.

“If you talk to him, he’ll tell you he beat me all the time,” Lohse said, starting to laugh. “He did beat me — once. The last time. But that’s all he wants to talk about. It’s like ‘Dude, the other six times, I smoked you.’ ”

Who smoked whom in Monday’s match eventually will be recorded on the internet. Jared Cohen, from Troon Golf LLC in Scottsdale, accompanied the players to take video of the match. He said that he hoped to have edited highlights available soon.

Those highlights will be available on Troon’s social media channels and on Laughlin Ranch’s website as well, Cohen said.

Troon, Wright’s employer, provides management services for Laughlin Ranch Golf Course.

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