Home Grown

Published on Thursday, July 11th, 2013 in Features

It takes a special parent (or two) to raise a special golfer – our Northwest pros say thanks

By Steve Kelley

Ryan-gang-shotRyan Moore was back from college and the weather felt like some rare meteorological homecoming celebration. It was January in the Northwest, but the sun was shining as bright as August.

So Ryan and his father, Mike, did what came naturally, what they had done together so many other sunny days since Ryan was six years old – they grabbed their sticks and headed for the golf course.

For Mike, the owner of Spanaway’s Classic Golf Club, this was a rare, precious-metal sort of day. A chance to play golf again with his son, who was a star at UNLV and moving closer and closer to turning his passion into his profession.

“I was playing really well,” Mike recalled. “We were enjoying each other’s company.”

But late in the round, Mike hit a ball into the bunker and did what golfers since the 19th century in Scotland have done. He cursed about his bad luck and groused about the game’s unrequited love. Ryan saw his father’s frustration and was having none of it. In one of those turning-the-table moments, the son gave his father some advice that has stuck with Mike for all the years since.

“If you can’t enjoy the challenge, if you get frustrated at your bad shots, you won’t enjoy the game,” Ryan told his dad. “Nobody owns this game; we only borrow it for a time.

“Golf is supposed to be fun. Why not enjoy it? You’re not doing it for a living.”

Golf, of course, is Ryan’s job. He has been on tour since 2005 and has won twice, while earning more than $14 million. He’s made a good living at the profession he loves, but the living isn’t always easy.

Every golfer struggles; it’s as inevitable as a rain delay in New Orleans. The easy, fluid swing develops a hitch. The grip on the putter gets too tight. Good shots land inches short and trickle into bunkers, or settle in a divot in the middle of a fairway. No golfer is immune to bad breaks or bad habits, and when it goes wrong for a golfer on Tour, there is nowhere to hide.

There is nothing more difficult in sports than winning a professional golf tournament. You have to beat every player in the field – the best golfers in the world. The week-to-week pressure just to make cuts and plow through the most difficult stretches is enormous.

And it is in those times when so many sons and daughters lean on their fathers to help them escape the valleys. (Certainly, the mothers share equally in the agony and ecstasy of golf. But, since this is the Father’s Day edition of Cascade Golfer, we’re focusing on the dads.) Northwest golfers Moore, Kyle Stanley, Paige Mackenzie and Jeff Gove all have shared the ups and downs of their difficult professions with their fathers. And, every one of them got their start walking (or riding) the courses of the Northwest with their dads.

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