Maui musings: Golf a learning curve for some players’ ‘wives

Jan 6, 2023, 12:55 PM | Updated: Jan 7, 2023, 9:49 am
FILE - Jon Rahm, of Spain, poses for photos with his wife Kelley and his son Kepa, after winning th...

FILE - Jon Rahm, of Spain, poses for photos with his wife Kelley and his son Kepa, after winning the Mexico Open at Vidanta, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, May 1, 2022. Kelley says she knew so little about golf when they met that she thought Rahm was the worst player on Arizona State's team. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

              FILE - Scottie Scheffler, left, reacts as he gets a hug from his wife, Meredith, after winning the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament March 27, 2022, in Austin, Texas. Scheffler says his wife has come to understand golf a little better in their nine years together. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
              FILE - Max Homa, center, is greeted by his wife Lacey, right, on the 18th green of the Silverado Resort North Course after winning the Fortinet Championship PGA golf tournament in Napa, Calif., Sept. 18, 2022. Homa says his wife knew nothing about golf on their first date. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
              FILE - Jon Rahm, of Spain, poses for photos with his wife Kelley and his son Kepa, after winning the Mexico Open at Vidanta, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, May 1, 2022. Kelley says she knew so little about golf when they met that she thought Rahm was the worst player on Arizona State's team. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — They had been dating for three months when Jon Rahm’s wife attended her first golf tournament. He was a senior at Arizona State and had already won the Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s best college player.

Her knowledge of golf?

“Zero,” Rahm said.

That much was evident to hear Kelley Rahm, who played tennis as a junior and threw the javelin at Arizona State, talk about that tournament.

“I thought he was very far down on the team, like one of the worst players,” she said. “He never talked about golf. His roommates were always talking about how they finished. I just thought they were all better than him.”

She arrived with a girlfriend of another Arizona State player and they set out to find out where they were on the course. She said they ran into the mother of a UCLA player and asked for help.

“We were like, ‘We’re looking for one of two people, my friend’s boyfriend and the other is, well, you won’t know him, but his name is Jon Rahm,'” Kelley said. “She’s like, ‘Honey, he’s very good. He might win the tournament.'”

Rahm tied for fourth that week and it wasn’t long before Kelley figured out that her eventual husband, who won a second Ben Hogan Award that year, was indeed very good.

They are at the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the sixth straight year, a product of Rahm winning every full year he’s been on the PGA Tour.

And his wife is up to speed on the sport he plays.

“She knows enough,” Rahm said. “Maybe she’s not going to be able to get you relief from a TIO, but she knows what’s going on. She loves watching people compete.”

There are exceptions, of course. Tom Hoge’s wife played college golf at Montana State. Billy Horschel’s wife played at Florida. J.T. Poston’s wife grew up around the game because her dad had a place at Kiawah Island and she used to attend the Wells Fargo Championship long before they ever met.

Far more common is Lacy Homa.

Max Homa says they lived a few hours apart and suggested as a first date that she accompany him to the Long Beach City Amateur so he could watch his friend, and then they would grab lunch. To his surprise, she agreed.

Her golf knowledge then?

“Negative one,” Homa said.

He said his friend was playing great at the Long Beach tournament, driving two greens on par 4s and reaching a long par 5 in two.

“She asked why the other guys weren’t doing that,” Homa said.

She has been with Homa through some lean years when he was on the Korn Ferry Tour struggling with his game, and some great years. Homa won twice in 2022 and was undefeated in the Presidents Cup.

She sees how hard he works. She understands golf a lot better.

For Homa, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“She tells me all the time, ‘With how often you practice, the fact you ever hit it in the water is crazy,'” Homa said.

Now he said she asks plenty of golf questions, just apparently not the right ones.

“They’re usually the ones that hurt my feelings,” he said.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler first met his wife Meredith in high school in Dallas. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2013, and the following year he was given a spot in the AT&T Byron Nelson while a high school senior.

Promotional ads for the tournament began running the week before.

“I was at her house one day and the commercial came on TV,” Scheffler said. “And she was like, ‘Wait a minute. Isn’t that next weekend? Isn’t that what you’re doing?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m doing.’ She’s like, ‘Wow, that’s cool.'”

There’s another TV story involving Justin Thomas. He met his wife Jill — they married last fall — through his friends who went to Kentucky with her.

The year he won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, his friends were at a bar late Saturday night. Thomas was in contention — it was about midnight in Kentucky — and his friends asked for the TV to be switched over to golf.

Jill couldn’t figure out why they wanted to watch golf on a Saturday night in the South.

“She didn’t really ask but in her head she was like, ‘That’s really weird,'” Thomas said. “And then once we met and we became friends, she understood.”

She watches a lot of golf, as do most wives, and Thomas said her golf savvy has improved to a point. He told her Wednesday the pro-am would take longer because carts had to remain on the paths due to rain. “I had to explain ‘cart paths only’ to her,” he said.

“Her level of golf knowledge is perfect,” Thomas said. “Just enough, and not too much.”

Xander Schauffele didn’t mind that his wife, Maya, didn’t know a birdie from a bogey when they met in college. The bigger concern was her father, a career Marine who was a lieutenant colonel when they started getting serious.

“I went over to her house and her dad was asking what I wanted to do, just as any good father would ask someone dating their daughter seriously,” Schauffele said. “I said I wanted to play golf. He said, ‘I don’t know what you mean.'”

Once he explained his goal, her father wanted to know the contingency plan.

Schauffele said he would make it work and he did, getting to the PGA Tour two years out of college, winning twice as a rookie and now he is No. 6 in the world. And he says Maya now knows enough to get by and keeps it simple.

“She’ll just look for my name on a leaderboard,” he said Thursday. “She’ll know today was (bad) because she has to keep scrolling down.”


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Maui musings: Golf a learning curve for some players’ ‘wives