This is an excellent question. I would say maybe, but probably not, although there may be other sports he may have succeeded in. This also goes to the subject of two sport athletes, like Bo Jackson and Deon Sanders. It is said that many of theses pro athletes could have been great at any sport, John Elway almost played for the Yankess instead of the NFL, but the big three sports I think cross over their skills well.
You do have to look at one notable failure, Micheal Jordon. One of the greatest athletes of all time, and the greatest basketball player ever, was unable to make it in the Big Leagues given his full focus and resources.
To golf; many pro sportsmen also golf, and when they retire in their thirties it becomes their passion. Not one comes to mind that has ever made it to the PGA, or even the Champions tour after twenty years of playing.
What physical attributes does Tiger Woods have that Michael Phelps doesn't? Given Phelps's height, I would say he has the advantage. Maybe even has a better more stable base of support given those flippers he has for feet too. But you state he'll always be a hack because ...?
I could only say "intangibles". Golfing prowess has to be more than height, conditioning and big feet. There are some great, but very unathletic golfers. John Daley and the Stadlers come to mind as two who couldn't jump over their shoes or run 100 yards. All golfers have to share those intangibles to be successful. Tiger is the perfect example of some one who has taken their natural talent and made the most of it. Could Tiger have been an Olympic swimmer or skier?
I think there is also a set of intangible skills in skiing, not just just strength, balance and reflexes. Despite endless time, lessons and dedication, many skiers will never get out of the backseat and will always use the upper body to turn, neverevernever! It is like the slice in golf, it feels so natural and is a habit that can't be broken, despite being detrimental to success. Most recreational golfers devote their lives to the game and are never capable of producing a draw. The same in skiing, many recreational skiers will never get the feel of the correct ski turn, no matter what you do them. The vast majority of skiers are stuck on the blues with skidded, speed control, turns. That is why all you coaches here will never be out of work.
Of course Tiger could be an Olympic skier. He already has the knees Not to mention access to one of the hottest coachess on the planet. He may very well take up skiing.
Joking aside, we have talked about several issues that make certain folks uber successful save one. Love. You have to love it. You have to want it to be your life. Anything else is a distraction. Oh. Save two things. You also need to be competitive. Not just kind of competitive either. The kind of competitive that makes you take risks and make poor decisions.
As for pro ball players not becoming pro golfers; "Why?" You retired for a reason. Was it to dedicate your life to another sport? You're a millionaire and have a fan base and all you have to do each day is maintain a heart beat to keep enjoying it. There is a difference of it being your passion recreationally and professionally. My passion is skiing recreationally. I love racing and going fast. I have no desire to compete at any level higher than beer league. I'm close to maxing out my desire for working out for skiing though I have access to almost everything I need to be as strong as WC skiers. Why would I want to do that? I love racing and would like to be better at it, but I have no desire to change my life anymore than I already have to achieve anything more.
I'm OK with agreeing to disagree because this sport, forum, and this thread, are a recreation for me. I do enjoy it but could walk away to another sport that sparked my interest like I did with SCUBA. I was making 300 dives a year when I stopped cold turkey. Thought I was going to be a commercial diver or be teaching touristos on some island. Ended up here instead and without regret.