Although he was known as a rough-and-tumble slugger during his Major League Baseball playing days, John Kruk does have a softer side.
In fact, the ESPN baseball analyst and Naples resident sounded somewhat sympathetic to the LPGA pros who are trying to conquer the hilly terrain at The TwinEagles Golf Club this week.
"Some of these greens, if it ever snowed, they could do the X Games here," said Kruk, who is friendly with one of TwinEagles' owners.
Kruk batted clean-up in The Golf Channel booth as he joined Tom Abbott, Rich Lerner and Judy Rankin for colorful commentary during the second round broadcast of the CME Group Titleholders on Friday.
Kruk is no stranger to the LPGA, having often played with Brittany Lincicome as well as Angela Stanford, Meg Mallon, Julie Inkster and others. Earlier this week, Kruk played with Natalie Gulbis for the first time.
"When you're out here for five hours, you get to know someone pretty well. What a great person," Kruk said.
Kruk's admiration extends to the entire tour.
"What I like about the women golfers is they get it. They know what they have to do to keep their sport surviving," he said.
Kruk's knowledge of the LPGA and appreciation of its players impressed Lerner, The Golf Channel's play-by-play host.
"To have a guy like John Kruk — a guy's guy -— proclaim his love for the LPGA is really a nice boost for the women's game," Lerner said. "He really knows the players and follows the game. That's great for the LPGA."
As for his own golf game, Kruk said his swing isn't one that should be replicated.
"It's just like baseball. No one wanted to swing like I did in baseball," said the author of 100 home runs in a 10-year career.
Kruk's family moved to Naples after it had vacationed here during his spring training days in Clearwater with the Philadelphia Phillies. His children attend Seacrest Country Day School.
"My son plays baseball and basketball. He's smart, too. We're going to check some DNA on that," Kruk joked.
During baseball's offseason, Kruk can usually be found on a golf course in Naples.
"I've got these redneck guys from Ohio that I play a lot with — and I can say that because I'm from West Virginia — and we play TwinEagles, The Hideout, The Quarry, Talis Park," he said. "We play every day. It's like we're on tour. Our kids go to school at the same place. We drop our kids off at school and go play golf all day and then go pick them up. It's great."
Kruk said his handicap at one point was three, but now it's ascended to six.
"I think the more I play the worse it gets. I'm not very smart, but I think, and that's a detriment," he said.
Regardless of his score, Kruk is simply happy to be able to swing a club these days after a grueling baseball career.
"What I enjoy most about golf is that at 51, and having 23 operations, I can actually play it," he said. "I can't play any other sport. So this and fishing are my two passions right now."