Jets coach Robert Saleh finds an outlet in his golf obsession

Robert Saleh had no thought on the time that he wanted an escape.

He was 29 years outdated and residing his dream as an assistant coach within the NFL, newly married to his spouse, Sanaa, and felt like his life was shut at hand.

Saleh had no thought what golf might someday carry him.

Then a collection of kismet moments, starting with Sanaa’s insistence, introduced Saleh into the sport and he by no means appeared again, a person hooked on it like many people.

The one disgrace for Saleh, 43, is that he is too busy proper now, main the Jets as their second-year head coach and persevering with to construct a life for his six youngsters, that he would not have sufficient time to play as a lot. typically as he needed.

NFL head coaches have a really small window of uncommitted time without work between the season, the draft, free company, OTAs, minicamps and coaching camp.

The present interval is that window, between the ultimate minicamp and coaching camp (which begins in a few weeks), and Saleh, on a muggy summer season day final week, took the time to play 18 holes with me at Suburban Golf Membership in Union, New Jersey

Jets coach Robert Saleh practices putting before a round of golf in Union, New Jersey.
Jets coach Robert Saleh, like many people, is hooked on golf.
Mark Cannizzaro/New York Submit

Positive, we talked about soccer, we talked concerning the thrilling offseason acquisitions the staff made, the unknowns about which of these gamers could emerge as stars, and concerning the pivot that second-year quarterback Zach Wilson and left sort out third-year Mekhi Becton are for the success of the Jets.

However principally we speak about golf. What introduced him to the sport. Private milestones. The best programs he has ever performed. The most important feelings. How he grew to become so hooked on golf that he grew to become a course evaluator for Golf Digest.

Jets followers, you realize from what you’ve got seen of Saleh how passionate he’s as a coach and about making his staff a winner.

Saleh can be enthusiastic about golf. There have been a number of instances throughout our spherical that he poked Suburban head professional Mark McCormick’s mind concerning the golf swing.

“Everybody wants a vice,” Saleh mentioned. “It is a chance to get away from all of it, to be alone within the discipline or to be with individuals you take pleasure in being with. I’ve additionally used it as a chance to bond with the youngsters. I am going to take the youngsters out of college and take one among them every single day to play 9 holes. It is a type of getaway, it is a pastime, a pleasure, one thing I love to do.”

Golf is Saleh’s escape.

Being a head coach within the NFL is tense. Being the top coach of the Jets, who have not been to the playoffs since 2010 and whose final Tremendous Bowl look was in 1969, is much more tense.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh smiles during drills at the team's training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh smiles throughout drills on the staff’s coaching facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, in Could.
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That is the place these late-afternoon nine-hole classes together with your children turn out to be useful to appease the soul.

Saleh did not play as a child rising up exterior of Detroit. He resumed the sport when his spouse noticed so lots of his coaching companions taking part in in his free time and nudged him to hitch them.

Saleh recalled that Sanaa as soon as requested him what the opposite coaches had been doing throughout their free time and Saleh mentioned, “They’re most likely taking part in golf.”

“Properly, why do not you play golf?” he requested.

“And the next week, the final OTA follow, we had a bowling outing with [Texans head coach Gary] Kubiak and I obtained one of the best rating among the many coaches,” Saleh recalled. “For that, I received a $300 reward card to a professional store. My spouse had been encouraging me to play as a approach to bond with the opposite coaches and colleagues, so I took that as a type of cue to begin taking part in golf. That was how I obtained began in golf. I blame my spouse.”

Robert Saleh hits a fairway shot during a round of golf.
Robert Saleh hits a fairway shot throughout a spherical of golf.
Courtesy of Robert Saleh

Saleh smiled at that final line, as a result of what he was actually doing was thanking his spouse.

Saleh used that $300 reward card to purchase a set of Cleveland golf equipment. He then invested in some classes.

“The primary lesson I obtained was getting irritating, I simply could not hit the ball straight, and the professional stopped me and mentioned, ‘Hey, Rob, I will offer you your first golf tip: You are by no means going to be adequate to to get offended, so simply benefit from the recreation,” Saleh recalled. “So from that day ahead, it is nearly going on the market and having fun with the sport. It is a getaway, so if I spend my time getting pissed off, then I am not having fun with the sport. That’s the angle I’ve taken with him.

“By the point I obtained a flush, it was over for me, I had the bug.”

Saleh, whose handicap is round 10 in the meanwhile, has had it as little as 6.

“I keep in mind the primary time I broke 90, that was once we obtained fired in Houston as defensive personnel. [in 2010]Saleh recalled. “It was the day after we obtained fired and I had nothing to do and I mentioned, ‘I will go play on my own.’

“I do not keep in mind after I first broke 80, however I do keep in mind after I broke 70. I shot a 69.”

It was through the COVID shutdown and I used to be coaching in San Francisco. He took his oldest son, Adam, to play a day at Almaden Golf and Nation Membership in San Jose.

“I used to be simply going to play 9 holes, however I shot a 34 on the entrance 9, it was on hearth, and I used to be like, ‘ what? I’ve to maintain this going,’” Saleh mentioned. “We took the flip and I stored taking part in effectively and fired 69. It was one of the best spherical I performed. It was fairly spectacular.”

To what extent has Saleh grow to be a golf nerd?

Whereas coaching in Houston, Saleh met a person at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Membership in Michigan who was score programs for Golf Digest, and Saleh instantly needed to become involved.

“I used to be on the brink of play and one other gentleman was strolling off the sector and he had all these actually cool discipline bag tags on his bag,” Saleh recalled. “We struck up a dialog and he informed me it was a part of the golf course qualification course of. I informed him I used to be and gave him my card.”

The person helped him get into the method and now Saleh has been a part of qualifying a few of the greatest programs within the nation.

Robert Saleh continues with a fairway shot as a caddy watches with a headlamp in the background.
Robert Saleh’s objective is to achieve 1,000 golf programs.
Robert Saleh

“I grew to become so obsessive about golf and course grading that it truly helped me get into the sport with the stuff you would not in any other case know as an informal golfer: the issues that train you to seem like golf course structure, the the conditioning, the situation of the bunkers, the shot values,” he mentioned.

Saleh has purchased a bag for every of his youngsters. In her new house in New Jersey, she has a golf room, the place she retains her golf memorabilia, a US and Canadian bubble hockey desk, and a popcorn machine for nights. cinema with the youngsters.

There may be additionally a shelf the place he retains a ball with the emblem of every new course he performs. As quickly as we completed our spherical, his first order of enterprise was to buy a Suburban emblem ball from the professional store for his assortment.

“My objective is to achieve 1,000 programs,” mentioned Saleh. “I am within the 400 someplace now.”

So what’s subsequent in golf for a man who’s already performed Pine Valley, Cypress Level, Shinnecock Hills, Nationwide and different top-rated programs on this planet and broke 70 whereas taking part in along with his oldest son?

“I simply take pleasure in taking part in,” Saleh mentioned. “I do not actually have a objective.”


“Clearly Augusta can be high-quality,” he continued. “However I really feel like now we have to win right here first to have the ability to do this. Simply being in New York and having the privilege of interacting with followers and season ticket holders… this place goes to go loopy once we change it. It will likely be nice”.

It is going to even be his first journey via Amen Nook at Augusta Nationwide.

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