As he rolls up to the first hole, J.R. Smith is asked where he’s playing from.

“The tips,” he says, as if you didn’t already know the answer.

Because where else would the enigmatic Cleveland Cavaliers guard, liable to pull up from anywhere at anytime on the hardwood, tee off from but the most distant and difficult box on every hole?  

On another hot and humid day in a summer filled with them, Smith, 31, is back at his home course—Eagle Ridge Golf Club in his native Lakewood, New Jersey. It’s the day before his birthday and he’s getting loose, waiting for the foursome ahead to get out of his range so he can begin what’s been a rarity for him this offseason: a round of golf.

Every NBA fan knows Smith as one of the game’s best sharpshooters—but how many know he’s got almost as much game with the sticks? Smith’s obsession with golf started in 2009. He was in Houston for the late Moses Malone’s golf tournament when he was challenged to give the game a try. The first ball he ever hit went 300 yards. “Some Happy Gilmore shit,” he says, referencing the 1996 Adam Sandler movie about a golf neophyte. “I got back up there and I couldn’t hit the ball. It was crazy.”

Nonetheless, he was hooked, and for the past seven years he’s been devoted to the game and lowering his handicap—currently “in the teens” he says—during his downtime. But this summer’s been different than all the others. First and foremost, he’s now an NBA champion: Three months ago the Cavs defeated the Golden State Warriors in arguably the greatest basketball comeback of all time. He also got married, went on a honeymoon to Amsterdam, and just opened Team Swish, a sneaker store, in Millstone Township, New Jersey. He’s been so busy that golf had to take a backseat.

Taking out his driver, the new Smith—one light years removed from his days of hoisting up shots by night and partying into the early morning—blasts his opening drive toward trouble off the fairway. It’s only his seventh time out this summer, so don’t expect him to put up a low number, he warns. And with that, our 18 holes with J.R. Smith are underway.