GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you want to make Aaron Rodgers nervous, you don’t need to put him on his own 1-yard line in the final two minutes of a game that the Green Bay Packers are trailing, or put him under center for the first snap of a Super Bowl.
Just put the Packers quarterback on the tee with fans lining the fairway, or in a foursome that includes the leader of the free world.
Rodgers didn’t share many details about his offseason round of golf with President Barack Obama when speaking with reporters a few weeks afterward, but he shared plenty about what it was like -- and about the nerves he often experiences on the golf course -- during an interview with former teammate A.J. Hawk last week.
Speaking on Hawk’s podcast, “The Hawkcast,” Rodgers said he shot a 75 -- “It was my best round of the year, thankfully,” he said proudly -- despite being “super nervous.”
Asked if he gave Obama any “gimme” putts, Rodgers replied with a laugh, “As many as I could. ‘That’s good, Mr. President.’”
The foursome of Obama, Rodgers, retired astronaut Mark Kelly and Tony Kornheiser of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” was coordinated by Kelly, the husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Rodgers eagerly accepted the invitation when it came in February.
“I said, ‘I’m all in. Just let me know,’” Rodgers said. “In February, they sent five or six dates and they said, ‘Can you make any of these dates work?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Any of them. Just pick one. I’ll be there.’
Rodgers became friends with Kelly after the two met on the set of HBO’s “The Newsroom.” Rodgers’ girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn, was one of the stars of the show, and Kelly attended a taping with Giffords when the show tackled the story of her attempted assassination in 2012. Rodgers and Kelly later appeared together on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” with Rodgers besting Kelly and “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary.
Despite winning two NFL MVP awards and leading the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title after the 2010 season, Rodgers admitted that playing golf under pressure circumstances gets to him. Rodgers frequently plays in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and said playing with spectators surrounding him at the tee box or along the fairway makes him nervous.
“That gets me 10 times more nervous than the first snap in a game or a snap in the fourth quarter when you’ve got to make a play,” Rodgers said. “I’m worried about hitting people, I’m worried about whiffing, I’m worried about looking terrible out there.
“I want to play well out there and obviously you walk on the first tee with the leader of the free world -- who’s competitive -- [and] I didn’t want to go out there and embarrass myself. Luckily I put together a decent round and made some putts. But I was very nervous at the first tee.”
Rodgers said his biggest fear is hitting a fan with an errant tee shot, something he thinks he might have done once.
“[I’m thinking] ‘Anywhere on the club face, anywhere up in the air so I don’t hit somebody,’” Rodgers said. “I think I hit somebody at Pebble Beach when I played in the pro-am a couple years ago. But I’ve been pretty lucky so far.”
Rodgers hinted that he got a special ride back home to California after his round with the president but claimed he couldn’t divulge how he got back to Los Angeles.
“I can’t. It’s [a matter of] national security,” Rodgers told Hawk. “Obviously the opportunity to play with the sitting president is pretty amazing. I’ll definitely cherish those memories -- and the ride back.”