Early in the round, Eddie Jordan isn't ready to hit his driver.
"It's going to come out," the Washington Wizards head coach says. "Right now, my golf game just needs to be safe, and I feel much safer with a 3-wood."
Yet there seems to be no hesitation when it comes to driving home a point. Jordan is asked if he considered reinstating suspended forward-center Kwame Brown for the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat.
"No," responds Jordan, 50, between shots at TPC of Avenel. "We had to stick by our guns and I felt very confident about that decision." Will Brown, a restricted free agent, be back with the Wizards? "I don't know," Jordan says. "He's still ours right now, and we're going to treat him as ours."
There is also no hesitation about what he perceives as the next step forward for his team, which does not have a first-round pick in the NBA draft on Tuesday. On the back nine, Jordan brought up a goal that, after last season's success, doesn't seem so far-fetched.
"Let's raise the bar ourselves," Jordan said. "Let's not say people are expecting too much of us. Let's say we expect a whole lot. We want to contend for a championship."
As for his golf game, the bar will likely stand where it is for the foreseeable future. "I am going to be good one day," said Jordan, who won't pick up a club from mid-September through the end of the season. "I don't know when, probably when I'm retired from basketball. I've had rounds where I've put it all together. I shot an 87, a legit 87 at Pebble [Beach] about seven years ago."
At Avenel, he shot a legit 106, coming home with a 51. There were only two pars on his card, both on par 3s, yet he did not appear discouraged.
"I kept my cool," said Jordan, who is playing 18 holes for only the second time this year.
Jordan used persimmon woods that he bought for $100 in the early 1990s from Mitch Richmond, who played for him in Sacramento. Why not titanium?
"I don't want to get hung up on that, because I know what it's about," Jordan said. He also owns metal woods. "It's about the way you hit the ball."
At the turn, after a well-executed par at 9, Jordan talked about his basketball legacy.
"I'd like to leave the game with being an innovator," he said. "People will say this game has been playing so long, there's nothing new out there. I have to half-heartedly disagree with that. I haven't done it yet. Give me another 10 years, maybe." Later in the round, he admitted: "It might not be out there. The old-timers could be right."
Jordan, who grew up in Washington, knew that he wanted to coach basketball even before he wanted to play. He observed his junior high coach, John Davis, mold young men, giving them structure and discipline. "I said, if I can affect people's lives in a positive way like that, as a coach, that's all I want to do," he said. Professional basketball players are "almost finished products in certain areas, but NBA coaches affect young men's lives."
Losing four straight to the Heat in the playoffs was disappointing, but Jordan said that if anyone had suggested in December that his team would make it to the second round, "but you might get swept by Miami, we would have said, 'Heck, we've overachieved.' " He is quick to defend his team. "People say we shoot quick, but we don't," he said. "We dribble, hand off. We pass to move the defense first."
At No. 6, Jordan finally pulled the driver out of his bag.
"I hit the 3-wood well enough the last couple of holes," he said. "I just felt it was time."
It is not time. The ball goes into the hazard. Soon, Jordan returned to the 3-wood, although he pulled out the driver again later in the round.