Any NBA fan remembers Jason Kidd in his prime as the former playing great racked up 10 All-Star Game appearances and an NBA championship. Now days, Kidd is the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, and most recently became an investor with the mobile golf technology startup, 18Birdies.
Kidd started playing golf in high school, but he really got into the game as a player for Phoenix Suns. As a coach, he continues to be involved in the sport, including competing in the American Century Championship, a celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe.
Kidd joins other 18Birdies investors Ernie Els and venture capitalist Peter Gotcher. 18Birdies also has former Sun Microsystems co-founder, Scott McNealy, as a strategic advisor, along with a roster of professional golfers to represent the brand that includes Paige Spiranac, Wesley Bryan, Harold Varner III, Willy Wilcox, Lanto Griffin, Stephan Jaeger, Tom Lovelady and Andrew Yun.
Golfweek was able to catch up with Kidd on one of the Bucks’ off-days to ask him a few questions about the investment opportunity, his golf game, Tiger Woods and more:
What stood out about 18Birdies that made you want to invest?
I first met their CEO, Eddy Lui, and the 18Birdies team at this year’s American Century Championships as we were paired together for one of the pro-ams that week, so I got to experience the app first hand. I really liked the complete feature set that 18Birdies has. They have something for every skill level. Beyond score tracking, the app has different features that make the game more fun and social. I like to bet on the course, so I really liked how easy the app made it to calculate different side game bets. Their GPS and distance tracking features really helped me plan my shots during the tournament at ACC.
I really believe in Eddy’s vision for disrupting the golf industry and how he plans to use technology to improve the golf experience.
When did you start playing golf? Did you play at all during your NBA career?
I actually started playing in high school. One of my teammates was also on the golf team and was ranked pretty high in the state and my basketball coach was also my school’s golf coach. So the both of them eventually got me out onto a course and I became hooked right away by how fun, yet challenging the game is.
I started playing a lot more during my time with the Phoenix Suns. That area has consistently good weather, some great courses and a passionate golf community, so I was fortunate to take advantage of that.
What’s your handicap and how many rounds do you estimate you play?
Right now, I’d say I’m playing at around a 7 handicap. I try to play as often as I can. If I had to guess, I would say that I play somewhere in the range of 20-plus rounds per year.
What’s your most memorable golf moment?
I’d have to say it was when I had the pleasure of playing golf with President (Bill) Clinton after he was out of office at Quaker Ridge. It was a great round and he’s not only competitive but also a really good golfer. We talked golf, about his travels and he even gave me a golf lesson. His storytelling is remarkable because when he talks to you, you feel like you’re the only one in the room.
Steve Kerr encourages his players to play golf. Are you the same way? If so, who’s the best on the team?
I do encourage my guys to get out on the course, and there are actually a couple guys that are trying to play and get better in Matthew Dellavedova and Khris Middleton. Giannis, on the other hand, I saw him try to swing at TopGolf. He’s a couple of years away!
I also like to play with my coaching staff and get them out in a different environment. We like to gamble and mix the teams up. Being the head coach, I get to dictate the teams to make sure I’m on the winning side!
What is your prediction for Tiger Woods? (Do you think he’ll win again, win another major, etc.)
After seeing him this past weekend, he looks like he is ready to compete again, so I can never count him out as long as he’s healthy. I really hope to see him play a lot more on Tour this season.