I spend at least a moment of every day missing my father.
He’s been gone for 21 years now.
More than any other place, I can still feel his presence when I’m on the golf course.
Tuesday, June 7, is Women's Golf Day. This month is Women's Golf Month. Covering the LPGA Tour, I can't help but look around and be impressed by all the talented women on and off the course who exemplify just how far the women's game has come since I started covering golf in 2007. Minjee Lee just won the 2022 U.S. Women's Open for the largest check ($1.8 million) ever given to a female golf champion. That's incredible. Statistics show that the pandemic golf boom has inspired a whole new generation of girls to take up the game in record numbers. What a potential boon for the future.
But with Father's Day looming, my thoughts always drift back to my dad. So many memories come flooding back. Of our trips to different tournaments. Of my dad and his little girl.
The 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla stands out. It was the last tournament that we went to together. We had tickets for the entire week. Gosh, we did so much. After the third round, Ernie Els threw a signed golf ball into the crowd. Of course, my dad scrambled to catch it for me. Another day, we got interviewed by a local news crew. I would give anything to see that video today. Just to hear his voice. On Sunday, we watched behind the 18th green as Tiger Woods made a downhill putt to force a playoff. I still remember how dark it was as we watched Woods hoist the Wanamaker trophy into the air after he won.
Seven months later, my dad was gone. He died of a heart attack. He was just 50 years old.
Looking back, going to the 2000 PGA really inspired me to pursue a career in golf. Seeing the players up close, it made me want to interview them after their round. After my dad passed, that dream gave me focus and direction at a time in my life when I needed it the most.
I’m grateful to say that my dream is now a reality and in a way, things have come full circle.
Just like my dad did for me all those years ago, I’ve introduced my own son, Jack, to the game. He turned 3 years old last month. My husband and I bought him a starter set of golf clubs. We played our first ‘round’ together as a family on Mother’s Day, which was also Jack’s birthday. The highlight of the day came on the driving range, when he made contact with his driver and dribbled his ball 15 feet off the tee. “Yay,” he screamed in delight.
On the final hole, Jack and I walked down the fairway together. A mom and her little boy. And a grown-up girl thinking of her own dad.