It was 6 a.m. all my siblings were asleep, and my mom too. I woke at the sound of weights clanking below me. Quietly out of my bed I crawled, climbed up like a monkey onto the countertop, grabbed my Barney (green and purple) sippy cup, filled it with my favorite chocolate milk from the milkman, tiptoed to the basement where my dad was “getting swole” and looked at him with a “put me in coach” look in my eyes. That he did. Inside the concrete walls holding the foundation of our first house sat a makeshift gym filled with the most basic equipment, yet it was all we needed. It was there my bond with my dad was planted, and just as the workouts and chocolate milk grew our muscle, so did our relationship. At the young age of 3, I leaned on my dad as we did military press back to back. Eighteen years later, I am still leaning on him.

In the gym, I tried to mimic my dad’s movements. From the pull-ups to squats, my dad didn’t need a mirror; he could just look at me. When he walked out the basement door, my dad didn’t lose his shadow. I threw catch with him, shot hoops and was his little bob the builder. Bring your daughter to work day? I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a once a week thing until mid-childhood. As a doctor, I had a hay day watching my dad interact with his patients when I was allowed. My dad, Rock, pitched in college and continued to play in a semi-pro league as we grew up. I loved nothing more than watching him throw pitches like a musician fooling the batter. So much so I had to get a closer look from the dugout until I would get kicked out.

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As a kid, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. The answer was either a doctor or the first woman to pitch in the MLB. Do you see the pattern?

When we picked up golf, that’s when I stopped mimicking his every move and decided to create my own. The stiff yet athletic swing of a 40-year-old wasn’t exactly poetic. The tables of imitation may have turned, but one thing remained true. I kept leaning on my dad.

When my brother left for college, our threesome turned into a twosome, and the many walks with my dad began. It started with four holes a day and gradually made its way to nine or more. As soon as I got done school, I’d run-up to the golf course and start practicing. It wasn’t long before I was counting the minutes until my dad arrived so I could either tell him my latest discovery about the game of golf or so we could make our way down the first fairway. Every “round” was finished off by a kiss on the cheek, and a “that was a lot of fun, what a wonderful way to end the day.”

My dad’s been with me every step of the way. From the moments of frustration as I struggle while honing my craft to the moments of jubilation as I realize my goals and dreams. There isn’t a tournament that I know he doesn’t want to be at, and he will do anything he can to be there. From that, I’ve learned what sacrifice and love are really about. As I got older and tournaments allowed, he became my caddy. Our long walks continued, and once again, I was leaning on him.

In 2017, I was at the U.S. Women’s Amateur and got a virus during the first practice round. With the help of my dad, I played the first 2 stroke play events only because he was holding me up. This picture is a snapshot of how he always holds me up.

We’ve learned the game of golf together, but after many beatings, I always remind him that I have had a lot more time to practice than he has. However, one thing I know is that he’s had a lot more time on this earth than I have. Our journey together in golf has been charmed because it is less about golf and more about life. The values that he has instilled in me through golf live long past the moment the last putt has dropped, or the scorecard has been signed. It is the values of honesty, faith, perseverance, hard work, sacrifice, love, and family that I carry with me as I walk through my everyday life.

An image of my dad and me after winning my first state championship title. Picture says it all.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to share this journey with my dad. He has been the metaphoric rock that has held me up and pushed me forward through every type of circumstance. I realize that not everyone is able to have this relationship. However, I do believe everyone needs someone to lean on when times get tough and someone there to celebrate in life’s greatest moments. To the fathers and daughters, this is a characteristic unique to golf that not many other sports can offer. I hope if you both share this common interest that you can use it to spend time together and weld a life long relationship.

Thank you, Dad!