**** Update: With the Patriots down to the last second in their battle with the Giants Sunday night, Gostkowski sent a 54-yard chip shot through the uprights to clinch a 27-26 New England win and preserve his team’s perfect 9-0 season. Gostkowski’s game-winner came after Tom Brady, with 1:47 remaining on the clock, drove his squad 44 yards to set up the successful last-ditch field goal attempt.
Stephen Gostkowski is on his way to becoming the greatest kicker in NFL history, so he knows a thing or two about how weather conditions, timing, and cadence can affect the trajectory of a football.
With fellow players from teammate Tom Brady to Giants punter Brad Wing this season displaying their love for the game of golf, it’s not surprising that Gostkowski shares the passion and sees a slew of similarities between hammering one through the uprights and keeping a golf ball on the fairway.
"A lot of it has to do with tempo and rhythm as far as the swing of the club and the swing of your leg," Bill Belichick’s placekicking machine told Mark Carnevale on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio on Thursday.
"There’s a lot of similarities," he noted. "You can leave the club face open and spray it to the right, you can have your foot close off too much, hit off the wrong part of the club or your foot, and the ball can go any which way."
The Pats all-time leading scorer talked about managing the breezes on the gridiron and the course, squaring the foot and the club face to the ball, and the self-assurance needed to hit an oblong or circular sphere.
Stephen Gostkowski is on pace to finish the 2015 season with 176 points. The NFL record for a kicker is 166 (David Akers in 2011).— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) November 10, 2015
"Once you get to where you can repeat the swing and have the confidence that you know the ball is going to go where you’re aiming and where you’re wanting to hit it, it gets a lot easier," he said. "I’m obviously a professional at field goal kicking but the times where I’ve gotten on a roll in golf and done well, for my game, the more confidence I have, the better swing I put on the ball. If I can see the shot before I hit it, it does a lot of good."
Gostkowski also knows that in both sports a smooth, fluid swing is far more successful than a vicious cut.
"In golf and in field goal kicking," said the 2006 fourth-round draft pick, who carried an 8.3 GHIN index out of Tennessee’s Germantown CC in 2012, "most of the times I screw up is when I try to hit the ball too hard."
In the end, though, whether he’s finishing a Patriots drive with an extra point or three, or driving a dimpled ball 300 yards, the 12 inches between the ears are what really matter.
"It’s all mental," Gostkowski -- as many before him have done -- concluded.