The life of the modern-day footballer is one with a lot of free time.

Up for training in the morning, followed by lunch at the training ground, and then you have the rest of the day to yourself. And aside from taking your Ferrari for a spin down the motorway or completing season after season on Football Manager, there’s not much else to do. And with the restrictions placed on players’ diets and even the activities they get into, it’s little wonder that a huge number of pros turn to golf to fill up their afternoons.

But what is a bit odd is the fact that at the Hammers we have more than our fair share of ex-pros who are really rather good. In fact, some are even skirting along the edge of professional levels of good. Is there something in their contracts obliging the players to play x amount of holes a week? Probably not, but we still think it’s odd.

Julian Dicks is, of course, the one we all know about. After retiring early, he was so good at golf that he took it up as a pro, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Dicks himself reckoned it was down to his foul temper, as he just didn’t have the patience when playing in actual tournaments. His injury record didn’t help either.

Another former player who is pretty good, Teddy Sheringham, plays with a handicap of 6. And, for those of you who don’t know, that’s really good; you can turn pro playing with a handicap of 4. While he’s still not quite British Open material, he’d still give the amateurs a good run for their money, and it would be interesting to see if BetStars would give him better odds than the 500/1 they’re currently offering on Sandy Lyle.

And on the subject of the British Open, Lee Bowyer and Gary O’Neill tried (and failed) to qualify for the Open in 2012. Both are very good golfers, but like Dicks, it seems that the pressure of actual competition was too much for either of them. However, O’Neill has actually played on the European circuit, which is pretty impressive considering he’s still a pro footballer.

You might remember Mark Noble’s rather humiliating viral video of him completely messing up a golf trick shot while Carlton Cole laughed on in the background, but we’re hoping he’s actually much better than that. He does seem to love his golf though.

Today’s squad is full of players who enjoy a round of golf, and with so much focus these days on staying in peak condition, it won’t be too much of a surprise to see the likes of O’Neill turning pro when he finally calls time on his footballing career.

But the fact that there are so many ex-pros who are good on the fairways and greens begs the question — why are footballers so keen to play golf? We’d like to say that it’s because they value the chance to get out into the fresh air and do some exercise, but the truth is that they’re probably just bored, but extremely competitive. Have you ever played a pro footballer on the Xbox? Yeah, they’d destroy you. Too much time on their hands.

We’re just waiting now for our number 9 to announce his defection to the world of professional golf. It really wouldn’t surprise us.