PROVO — You’d think Deron Williams would be the biggest celebrity golfer at Glenwild Golf Club near Park City where he has been a member for several years. Except there’s also a guy named Michael Jordan, who also occasionally roams the fairways of Glenwild during the summer.
The two athletes play sometimes and they take turns beating each other.
“Can I beat him? Yeah, and he can beat me,” says Williams of Jordan, who has a place at Glenwild.
The former Jazz star, who isn’t officially retired from professional basketball, spends many of his summer days out on the golf course now, whether it is with someone like Jordan or friends he’s made in Utah such as Park City professional Steele DeWald.
DeWald is the one who convinced Williams to play in last week’s Provo Open at East Bay Golf Course, Williams's first real stroke-play tournament. He’s played in celebrity events at Lake Tahoe and other places, but this was more serious. DeWald believes the Provo Open is one of the most fun tournaments in the state because the course isn’t overly difficult and the players are treated so well.
Williams played a practice round with DeWald early in the week and then played on Thursday and Friday in the tournament. He regularly shoots in the low 70s at Glenwild where he has a handicap of 4, but playing under tournament conditions is a different story as Williams found out with rounds of 78 and 79, which left him outside the cut line for Saturday's final round.
Acknowledging that DeWald “talked me into playing,” Williams said, “I didn’t think I was ready.” Then, with a laugh, he added, “Obviously I wasn’t.”
Williams owns a home in Promontory near Park City, where he spends his summers with his wife, Amy, and four children, while living in Dallas the rest of the year.
Besides golf, he said, his sports these days include mixed martial arts, skiing and “anything my kids want to do.”
As for more basketball, he doesn’t rule that out, even though he didn’t play this past season after playing for Cleveland at the end of the 2016-17 season. He’s still relatively young by basketball standards, turning 34 later this month.
When asked whether he might play basketball again, Williams replied, “I don’t know, man. I still might play little bit here and there.”
Although Williams left the Jazz in 2011 when he was traded to New Jersey after a famous dust-up with coach Jerry Sloan that many believe precipitated Sloan’s resignation, he holds no hard feelings toward the Jazz.
Williams has acknowledged he’s been hurt by the boos he’s received in recent years on return visits to play at Vivint Arena although, in his last visit in 2017, he good-naturedly said the boos have finally receded a bit. But he still has fond memories of his time playing in Utah.
“I had a great time with the Jazz,” he says. “Those were my most memorable years for sure, my best seasons. It was the farthest I went until last year with the Cavs, the Western Conference run we had. I enjoyed my time here.”
When asked about any regrets he might have over the way things ended seven years ago, Williams becomes reflective.
“That overshadows everything — it is what it is,” he says. “It’s something you can’t change.”
Williams hasn’t been back to Vivint Arena as a non-player, and he points out that it’s only been a year since he last played. However he follows the Jazz and is positive about their future.10 comments on this story
“I check them out; I watch games,” he says. “I think their future is definitely bright with Donovan Mitchell. Rudy Gobert is still a force, and they’ve got a lot of young pieces. Donovan Mitchell is definitely the key to all that.”
Williams plans to stick around Utah — “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like it, that’s for sure” — and could play in more local golf tournaments in the future. And he’s OK if his basketball career is indeed over.
As he told Bleacher Report a few months ago, "Basketball doesn't define me as a person. I had a great career. Not many guys get to play 12 years in the NBA and win gold medals and get to compete for a championship. So, I’ve got a lot to be proud about."