How to be a Golf Wife (in 3 easy yet forgettable steps)

So you are married to a golfer, eh? He’s a good golfer too you say? I mean…he’s not just an “I’m going to play in league” golfer…he’s a competes in a lot of tournaments & even wins sometimes, golfer? Well here are 3 easy steps on how to be that perfect golf wife that no-one ever sees but him.

  1. Imagine that you’re #1 in his life. Don’t get me wrong, you will certainly be in the top 3; God, Golf, Wife (in that order). You see, the first two will ALWAYS be there. The third? Well hey, we’re all mortal, aren’t we? At some point you’ll be dust (#3) and he’ll still be able to golf (#2) – God (#1) willing until he too becomes dust. So you see, you really shouldn’t aspire to be #1 on the list, rather you accept your #3ness. That being said, be the BEST #3 he’ll ever have (because there’s always a new #3 waiting around the corner).
  2. Don’t assume that people want to talk to you. “Hey! You’re <insert golfers name>’s wife, aren’t you?” Because you’re the fun one so they like to talk to you, right? Probably not. Let’s get something straight; he was given a gift of a talent that not a lot of other people have – and it certainly cannot be bought – so that makes him special. People are drawn to things they can’t have, it’s natural. While you may be an extraordinary human being, anyone can learn to be patient, loving, understanding, good in bed, articulate, funny and…well, you get my point. Just accept that you are <insert golfers name>’s wife and attempt to make your own (non-golf) friends. What? You didn’t think they existed, did you? Well it’s true! I’ve heard there are people who don’t play golf [gasp] – find them! They’re like unicorns! When you do find these unicorns, wait to introduce him to them…like…awhile. Establish your temporary place in their unicorn society. When you do introduce him, they won’t know him so he’ll immediately become <insert your name>’s husband. Yes…enjoy your brief, yet rewarding stays in the unicorn world.
  3. The final step in this process is to never demand more out of him than he can give. Don’t expect him to notice little things; like your hair is now red instead of blonde and 3″ shorter, or that you weren’t wearing underwear when you went out last night. Don’t expect him to do things you’ve never expected him to do before either; like opening doors for you or walking at a pace you can keep up with instead of being 30 yds ahead of you…things that never mattered before but now seem to make all the difference in the world. And for craps sake, don’t expect him to play golf with you! There’s simply not enough hours in the day to work full time, play 36 with the guys (“it’s a game honey, of course I’d want you to play but it’s all guys & there’s money at stake”) and play 9 holes with you. Take up your own hobby…like writing silly blogs.

As you can see, these steps are extremely easy to follow…and will guarantee you earn your place in the GWC (Golf Wives Club). The GWC is like being in a super-secret club. Only other golf wives will understand the challenges you face and the compromises you make. Golf wives tend to stick together & generally have a silent (but strong) bond. Golf kids depend on golf wives to keep their families in tact and functioning. We are resilient and resolved. We cheer our men on when they play well, and ignore them when they don’t (okay, maybe not ignore them…they make it impossible to do that…we just don’t indulge their tantrums).

If these steps seem hard, rest assured you could be well on your way to being an ex-golf wife and he’ll continue on his way to pursuing his #2 love without having to worry about his (now non-existent) #3 love. I would suggest you move on to finding someone who is better suited to your needs…like the cashier at Taco Bell. He needs you…you’ll just have to figure out how to get him to move out of his parents house.

Oh…and as a side note, if you do have kids you are automatically moved down to #4 on the list in step 1 above because kids will outlive both of you, so obviously they rank higher – not to mention that when he can’t golf, he’ll need someone to change his adult diaper so…yah…welcome to the club!

Friends are the Family You Choose

Once upon a time I thought that saying was a bit clich√©…but as I get older, more & more it becomes obvious how much that rings true.

Last night we invited anyone who was in the GR area to stop by Putt-Putts Bar to celebrate Tom’s finish in qualifying. I did so by making a post on Facebook and sending a couple text messages to people I knew weren’t on Facebook. I figured maybe 15-20 of our usual crew would show up. I asked our friends who work there if we could reserve a couple tables in back…which they were kind enough to do for us. Putts is not a large bar. Inside there are 5 rectangle tables that seat between 12-16 and 2 large round tables that seat between 10-12…as well as seating at the bar and another little table that seats 2. We arrived around 5pm and I think by 8pm or so we occupied at least 1/2 of the entire bar! I didn’t count, but I’d have to guess between 40-50 people were there at any given time. The people who weren’t there for our party were pissed because we took up so much of the bar that getting to the bathrooms was nearly impossible! I think I sat down for 15 minutes total between 5-11pm! Tom & I had to leave around 11:30pm because neither of us had eaten dinner & we both could hardly speak anymore! It was overwhelming to say the least. The number of people who showed up just to say “hi” and have a drink & congratulate Tom…was simply amazing! There were 4 people from Toms former job at Gill Tool & Die that showed up that he literally hadn’t seen in almost 17 years! We saw several former fellow Highlands members as well as quite a few current fellow Sunnybrook members. All 3 of Tom’s bosses showed up along with a couple co-workers! It was so much fun!! I tried so hard to thank everyone who came, as did Tom. I sincerely hope we made it to see everyone at least to do that. It meant SO MUCH to us to see people we care so much for!

So now to make clear something I tried to convey last night every chance I got: so many people said to me, “Thank you for writing the blogs! It made it feel like we were there with you”. Truth be told…these blogs and Facebook posts make it feel like you all are here with us – wherever we may be. It can be kind of lonely when you’re traveling & you don’t see too many people you know. Sure we had each other and Mike was with us, but we’re very used to knowing everyone (or practically everyone) Tom plays against…and even the officials who run the tournaments. Professional golf is a whole new world. Not only do we not know any officials, most of the players don’t want us there! And the more they see Tom play, the less they’ll want us there, I promise you that!

When I write these blogs…people respond in a positive way; to me or to Tom. When I post on his Facebook page, people comment or like the post…and it transports us right back home, to our safe place, to our family. It means more to us than it does to you, please believe that. I don’t do this just to keep people in the loop…I do this because the feedback helps me deal with the stress and it takes us home – regardless of where we may be.

At one point during the evening, someone asked me what was next for Tom & what was our plan. Obviously it’s difficult to practice & stay competitive when there’s that crappy white stuff covering the ground. That means that as Tom goes further along on this journey, the likelihood of his having to spend more & more time down South becomes inevitable. I was asked, “Well this will still be your home base, right? You’ll come home here?” It was a hard question to hear because Grand Rapids is home. There is no other place we could call our “home base”. Our family is here…those friends we call “family”, the ones we chose to take on our journey with us, the ones who, no matter what, have always been there to hold us up (and in a lot of cases, keep us grounded). Tom’s buddies do an amazing job of making sure Tom understands that he’s nothing without them – they think it’s funny – he knows it’s true (he just can’t tell them that). Grand Rapids will always be our home base – the dilemma will be – how do we maintain 2 lives; one here in Grand Rapids for 3 seasons and one down South for the Winter season? That’s the hard part and something we’ll have to carefully plan…but there’s no sense in doing that unless it truly becomes a necessity. Time will tell…and at some point I hope to write a blog about the whole emotional portion of the journey that I’ve not yet allowed to become a part of my writing – the intensely personal part that no-one gets to see and certainly isn’t talked about. Suffice to say that the words to Bruce Springsteen’s song Rosalita keep playing in my head, “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny”.

So to all of you who were able to be with us last night…thank you so much! You really have no idea how much it meant to have you there.

To all of those who wanted to come but couldn’t be there (for whatever reason), know that you were missed. Also know that your support is no less important to us.

If I’ve said it one hundred times it still isn’t enough…Tom wouldn’t have made it this far without the love & support of our friends. Our family we got to choose.

Here are some pictures from last night…some I took and some that were taken for me, because I made the mistake of leaving my phone on a table while I was visiting…I’m fairly certain you’ll know which ones they are!

The People You Meet Along the Way – Part 2

Back in early Spring…Tom took a trip down to Georgia with Jim Poll (JP) to play golf with a couple Sr Tour pro’s. It was there that he met Sonny Skinner. Sonny and James Mason agreed to play golf with Tom & JP on the request of JP’s friend Larry Vaughn. This trip was maybe the most important event in Tom’s decision to turn pro. While he had mostly made up his mind by this time, he wasn’t 100% sure he’d made the right decision. This trip (arranged by JP) was designed to be a chance for him to meet these two gentleman who’d actually been on the tour, play golf with them & pick their brains as to what to expect should he continue on with his decision to become a pro. During those couple of days he did learn about the tour, the cost and even got feedback from them that he had the game to compete. What he didn’t expect, was to make a new friend…an ally as Scott Pieri likes to refer to the guys who make friends out on the tour (more about him in Part 3).

Tom didn’t see Sonny or James again until he went down to Florida to compete in 1st Stage Qualifying. Sonny was also trying to qualify (James was not) at the same site, the Disney Palm Course in Orlando. As fate would have it, after 3 lackluster rounds of qualifying, Tom ended up paired with Sonny for the last round. This is exactly what Tom needed. A familiar (and friendly) face. I like to think it was mostly me being there that contributed to his much improved 4th (and final) round of qualifying in Stage 1…but I’m sure playing with Sonny in his group had something to do with it also.

Obviously Tom advanced from Stage 1…Sonny did as well. Both were excited for the other & agreed to get together for practice rounds for Final Stage Qualifying in Scottsdale, AZ in 2 weeks.

I had the opportunity to accompany Tom for the entire week in Scottsdale. I went along for the practice rounds and was able to ride in the cart with Sonny for the 1st of 2 practice rounds. I can tell you first hand that Sonny isn’t your typical tour pro. He’s humble, passionate about his game and a genuinely nice man. We got to chat about how he got to this point in his career, and much like you’d hear from Tom…he tends to give a lot of the credit for his success to his wife who’s supported him all along. She doesn’t come out to watch him much anymore because she works, but this has been something he’s adjusted to as she made the choice to stay back when they had their (only) daughter Marlee, who is now married. Sonny has been working at playing golf for his livelihood for most of his life…and it hasn’t been an easy road, but this is what he loves to do and fortunately he married a woman who understood that & encouraged him to follow his dream. He has worked at other jobs, but golf is ultimately his calling. I mentioned to him how much Tom has enjoyed getting to know him, and how appreciative he is for all the help Sonny had given him up until this point (mostly tips about how to play the course and general encouragement about his game). Sonny said he could tell Tom had a passion for the game and that he wasn’t wrapped up in himself like most of the other guys out there are. He said he enjoyed his time with Tom as much as Tom appreciated him. Not the first time I’ve heard someone talk of Tom in those terms… it is certainly nice to hear from someone of Sonny’s background.

You can check out some more facts about Sonny’s career here.

Now…back to the guy with the fascinating pre-shot routine from Part 1. I thought I’d probably never see this guy again, much less get a chance to video his routine. Then…out of sheer coincidence…there he was! He was practicing next to the 1st tee for the first round at Final Stage Qualifying in Scottsdale! He obviously made it through First Stage and there he was, in all his glory! I couldn’t believe it was him! So this time…rather than catch bugs with my mouth hanging open…I had the forethought of mind to get my phone camera ready & I managed to capture him on video. I had to do it discretely so as not to interfere with him teeing off so the quality isn’t great, but hopefully you can catch the club flip that’s going on during his whole routine!

I now have a reminder that everyone has their unique process or swing that works for them – and this guy, along with another good friend who shall remain nameless at this point, are the most memorable! That being said…he made it to Final Stage Qualifying so who’s to say what’s right & wrong…all that matters is it Werks!

Below: Scott Pieri, Sonny Skinner and Tom

The People You Meet Along the Way – Part 1

It occurred to me that I never wrote blogs while in Florida for 1st Stage Qualifying. Granted I was only there for 3-1/2 days…I did get to see & meet some interesting people. While waiting for Tom to tee off for the last round of 1st Stage Qualifying at Orlando’s Disney Palm Course, I wandered over to the first tee and was watching the groups ahead of us tee off. I witnessed a pre-shot routine like none other…it’s a good thing it was during a time of year when the bug population was low because my mouth hung open watching this…process…and were the bugs out, I’d have probably ingested quite a few! It became my mission to find this player & take a video of him to show my golf friends. Unfortunately this would not come to pass during my brief stay in Florida. More on that in Part 2.

Tom’s pairing for the final round at 1st Stage Qualifying consisted of himself, Sonny Skinner and Chris Hunsucker. While watching the round with some friends that were in Florida during the same time & who’d come to watch Tom play; our friend Kathy noticed that the gentleman also watching the round with us looked remarkably like Chris’s caddy…like…exactly like him! She guessed they were twins. At some point early on in the round, I finally asked this gentleman if they were at least related and learned they were indeed twins! Now this in-and-of itself isn’t remarkable, what was is that they looked to be in their late 60’s or early 70’s. Blaine was caddying and Boyd was watching. We struck up a conversation (because that’s what you do when you’re in a golf gallery) and I learned that they were gospel singers from Joplin, MO. I asked Boyd how old they were but he would not reveal such sensitive information. They had both been professional caddies for over 20 years so the sun exposure (they were awfully tan) may have betrayed their real ages.

At some point during our conversation, Boyd mentioned he & his brother had a special “twin bond” that allowed them to communicate without speaking. Obviously I found this fascinating so he offered to demonstrate. While the players were putting, Boyd asked me what my favorite number was, between 1 and 100. I whispered “16” (they were putting & I didn’t want to say it too loudly for fear I’d give away whatever was to occur next). As the group finished & was walking off the green, Boyd called over to his brother Blaine (who was never closer than 30′ from us) & asked him if he knew my number. Blaine smiled a sweet smile & said, “16”! Yah…I was floored! What was this they were doing here? They were gospel singers…perhaps they had a special “in” with the angels?? I don’t know! I was SUPER excited to know what had just happened…totally distracted from the golf!

As we approached the next hole (there’s quite a bit of green-to-tee at that course), Boyd said, “we can do it for your birth month too.” Oh, well let me think about that…DO IT!! I was stoked! As we got closer to the next tee box I stopped him, made him turn away, and whispered, “February” in his ear. He got this silly grin on his face & said, “okay…I’ll get his attention.” Now Blaine was kind of busy with his player (who hadn’t hit the best of tee shots on this short par 3) so initially Boyd couldn’t get him to acknowledge us. As the group left the green, and as Blaine was jogging up to meet his player at their golf cart, Boyd again called out to him and Blaine kind of rubbed his eyebrows, then looked over at Boyd and with a somewhat furled brow, said, “February”! Okay…things just got REAL WIERD on the golfcourse!! Tom who? Was I watching golf or at a freak show? Our friend Steve (Kathy’s husband) was nearby so I immediately ran up to him to explain this craziness I was experiencing with the 2 gospel singer/caddies. He was somewhat incredulous so I convinced him to ask Boyd to demonstrate this freak show for Steve as well. He did. Same result. Freak show complete! I now had zero interest in the golf and was totally immersed in getting to know this man a little better and trying to convince him to explain to me how any of this was possible.

He told me that he’d never married…his brother Blaine was married. They had been caddying professionally for over 20 years; first with the LPGA and eventually on the PGA Tour. Boyd had been Casey Martin’s first caddy when he filed his lawsuit against the tour to get them to allow him to use a cart during tournaments due to a disease that would not allow him to walk any extended distance. He also told me about how he’d met the owner of the Orlando Magic’s wife (Jill Williams) because she was writing a book about how she & her husband Pat Williams had 4 children & had adopted 14 others from 4 different nations…for a total of 18 children! Blaine & Boyd have big hearts for children and are/were actively involved in children’s ministries so Blaine decided to call her! Yah, just called, explained who he & Boyd were (gospel singers) and, to make an already long story a little shorter, became very close friends. They were invited to Williams family gatherings & to vacation with them! As you can deduce…these two gentlemen were something special.

As we walked further…I introduced Boyd to the rest of Steve & Kathy’s family (their son Conner, Kathy’s Mom & Steve’s parents [referred to as “the old people”]). Boyd pulled Conner aside & asked him if he wanted to see a trick. Then called all us around to watch. Conner was a little shy but we were all about it. Boyd hands Conner 2 coins; a quarter and a penny. He puts them in his hand, closes his fist & rubs the top of Conner’s hand. He then turns Conner’s hand over, peels his fingers back & reveals a silver dollar now occupying the space on Conner’s palm that previously held the 2 coins! Boyd smirked and walked away! I was on tilt.

We were now approaching the 9th hole & Boyd told me that if Chris didn’t make a birdie, he was going back to the pool! This was obviously not what I wanted to hear! Chris was +3 on the day & hadn’t made birdie yet! I decided that I probably should start paying attention to the game & what my husband was doing since he was the reason I was there…and Kathy had started to chat with Boyd anyway, as they walked a few steps behind me. However, I somewhat overheard Boyd telling Kathy what his secret was and explaining their “mindreading” skills. Part of me wanted to know…part of me wanted to indulge my inner child & just believe it was a crazy twin thing. As the group walked off 9 (Chris made another par) and before I could step back to butt into their conversation…I noticed Boyd walking off the course! NOOOO!!! Dang it!! I didn’t even get to say goodbye!! I really wanted to let him know how much I’d enjoyed our very brief time together. This was a special dude…he needed to know that.

The rest of the round I spent doing what I was supposed to be doing…watching golf. Fortunately Steve, Kathy, Conner and the old people were pretty entertaining. Steve was posting live videos of Tom on Facebook & I kept trying to find “hair” for Conner. After the round I accepted a ride back to the scoreboard with Sonny Skinner…my first real chance to chat with him. Again, more on that in Part 2. I’ll never forget Boyd (or Blaine). They are permanently filed in my “people you meet along the way” mental file where they’ll hold a special place. Much like Dr. Roy Vomastadt from Crystal Downes. I may have to write a blog on him too…later.

Below are some pictures from Florida. I never got a picture of Boyd, nor did I get to thank him for his entertainment & kindness…but you can see Blaine in the picture of the group on the 18th green holding the flag.

Team Werk

This past month has been an amazing ride of emotions. To start, Tom leaves for Florida to prepare for and compete in 1st Stage Qualifying…which takes him from home for 14 straight days. This may not seem like much, but Tom has always been a homebody and we’ve never been apart for more than 4 days max so it really was a test for us. I joined Tom after 10 days in Florida; just in time to catch the last round of 1st Stage Qualifying and coincidentally he shoots his best round to qualify. I’ll take credit for that. Team Werk.

Tom still works full time (although he’s a commissioned salesperson so “full time” is a relative term). It’s the holiday season and his biggest account is in the process of creating what could be his biggest sale of the year while he’s gone. Tom’s bosses at MCS Marketing (Melissa, Chuck & Scott) all got behind Tom & assured him he’d have the support he’d need to manage his account and give him the piece of mind to let him do what he needed to do to qualify. Team Werk.

Mike Boogaard, head golf pro & part owner at The Pines Golf Course…who is Tom’s putting coach (and also gives input on other parts of his game) stepped aside from his job to caddy for Tom; missing his granddaughters birthday & an important doctor appointment for his wife (who is battling a rare disease). Not once did he leave his job & family, but twice; in Florida and again in Arizona. He doesn’t get paid for this (although Tom’s sponsors cover his expenses)…he does it because he knows Tom’s potential and he wants to be part of a winning combination. He is the positivity to Tom’s negativity on the golf course. He truly becomes Tom’s biggest ally and endures what anyone who’s ever caddied for Tom knows is possibly the most frustrating 4-1/2 hours in a day. Then he makes sure the evenings after golf are a time of decompression and comic relief. If you can picture a silver haired, physically fit man lounging by a poolside, using a sports bra as a coaster and spouting off about the book he’s writing about women, you’ll have the beginnings of an understanding of Mike Boogaard. Team Werk.

Back home, “holding down the fort” as they say, are our children. Our son Dean stays at our condo while we’re gone & cares for his 4-legged furry sisters who do quite well for a day or two alone, but really shouldn’t be alone as long as we’ve been gone. He also acts as part-time chauffeur to the airport. He totally makes being gone much easier! Our daughter Caitlyn was an amazing factor in this week’s outcome; driving to Grand Rapids on a moments notice to retrieve & overnight a document that, would it not have arrived, could’ve meant disqualification for Tom. That’s a whole story in-and-of itself which I’m fairly certain cost me a couple years off my life and several new gray hairs. Her husband Ryan, our awesome son-in-law is a constant source of support & encouragement…providing a much needed “insiders” perspective for Tom and is always there to bounce ideas off of. Team Werk.

My new boss allowed me, after only 2-1/2 months to work remotely for a day so I didn’t have to take an unpaid day off to come & be with Tom in Arizona. He’s been so understanding of this process…especially when, after I had just taken 2 days off to go to Florida, allowed me to then turn around, work 2 days & leave again for Scottsdale on basically no notice. Team Werk.

Peter & Kristin Bosch who gave us a time share for Tom to stay at in Florida for 14 days on short notice and who tried to find one for us in Scottsdale as well. Team Werk.

There are countless friends who celebrated Tom’s victories with us at Putts and consoled us in his defeats (again, at Putts). So many of you who know exactly who you are and how much you mean to us. I dare not try to name all of you because if I forget someone it would break my heart for you to feel left out. Most of you are former Highlander’s as well as fellow Brookers and even the staff at Putts! These friendships we truly treasure with all our hearts. Team Werk.

Lastly…and definitely not least, in fact I purposely left him for the end because I want people to realize how extremely important he is. Joel Eerdmans, Tom’s main sponsor believed in Tom as much (or more) than anyone who’s known Tom, without having really known Tom long at all. Joel is the only reason we were able to do this. Yes, Tom has other sponsors. Paul Kamps, Doug Meijer, Bill Buchanan…these men will all play their part soon (January 2018 is a target date), and have all verbally committed to sponsor Tom. Joel, however, stepped in without a contract, knowing we needed to have funds up front to get through qualifying and never batted an eye. His constant support and guidance through the business end of this journey has proved invaluable and truly made this possible. Joel owns JDE concrete in Grandville so if you ever need concrete work…please call them and know that by doing so you’ll bring this whole thing full circle. Team Werk.

I’m reminded of a benediction that my pastor used to read at the end of service when I was a kid. Tom & I are Christians and we know that it’s only by God’s grace that we are so blessed to have each & every one of you in our lives. My wish for each of you is contained in that benediction. Numbers 6:24-26 says, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”