One week after ending his incomparable Olympic career with 22 medals, Phelps signed up as Hank Haney's latest pupil. He will be featured in The Haney Project on the Golf Channel, with hopes that golf will fill his competitive void.
"I'm excited about this project with Golf Channel, and I'm looking forward to working with Hank and see what we can do together on the golf course," Phelps said in an announcement Saturday.
This isn't a second career. It doesn't sound as if Phelps will be going to Rio in 2016 when golf makes its return to the Olympics.
"He wants to win his club championship," Haney said in a phone interview. "He wants to play golf so bad. He'll be all right. It will take him a little while, but he should improve really fast. Michael has got such long arms. But it's funny, because whenever anyone makes a comment that a guy has got a lot of potential, they're always talking about one thing — he hits it a long way. The translation is he hits it everywhere.
"The guy with a lot of potential is athletic, long and in search of his golf ball."
Haney, the former swing coach of Tiger Woods, has worked with actor Ray Romano, Charles Barkley and radio host Rush Limbaugh in the television series, which is in its fifth season. Last year, he worked with four celebrities, including former boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard.
The series will show Phelps' attempt to improve his game from tee-to-green while playing some of the world's best golf courses.
"I have traveled the world through swimming, but really haven't had an opportunity to experience the world through my travels," Phelps said. "As I enter this next chapter of my life, I think I will be able to shift my competitiveness to anything I put my mind to, and golf is one of the things I want to focus on. If I have a goal of dropping a certain amount of shots, or working on my short game or putting, those things are going to keep me motivated and fire me up and keep me excited.
"I want to play all the world's great golf courses, but I'd like to play them well."
Phelps received a peg board last Christmas that featured the world's best courses. He will start filling the board when production begins next month. Haney said the series will likely have eight parts.
Haney said Phelps may have the most upside to others on the show because he doesn't have a job.
"This is a perfect opportunity for me because every other time when I've done my show, everybody has a real job," he said. "Michael is retired. He's got a lot of time on his hands. He's going to practice a lot."
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