I WAS BORN IN CALIFORNIA IN 1988. But I grew up in Blacksburg, Va. Our parents were hippies. My brother, sisters and I were raised strict vegetarian, and my dad would rather hang out with us than go to his job managing a health-food store. My siblings had their interests, but I loved sports. Dad coached some of my baseball and soccer teams. We didn’t have much money, but we had a great life.
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I GOT A SET OF CLUBS FOR CHRISTMAS WHEN I WAS 8. Dad nor any of our relatives had ever played. The city municipal was less than a mile from our house, and I could go around all day for $9. “The Hill” was 2,700 yards. In time, I shot a few 68s that were probably more like 78s. You know how kids can be with mulligans.
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THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE CAME THE SUMMER I WAS 12. My best friend’s mom pulled me out of 4-H camp and drove me to the hospital. Dad had a huge scar on his head where they’d removed a brain tumor. He’d been sick for a while. Mom knew, but we thought it was just a cold.
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DAD CAME HOME, TOLD US HE WAS GOING TO BE FINE, AND SLOWLY WE WATCHED HIM STRIPPED OF HIS INDEPENDENCE. His body and mind failed him. We got a call from the health-food store when he backed his car into a pole in the parking lot. With my mom preparing to start work as an elementary-school teacher, on top of all else, I couldn’t ask her for rides to sports. So I fell deep into golf. I could walk to the course and didn’t need anyone.