What I learned about golf and life from my dad

Everyone says I’m following in my father’s footsteps now that I’m a PGA Pro, but it’s thanks to him that I’m taking my own steps.

I grew up in Pinehurst, North Carolina. A place where touching a golf club is unavoidable. My dad was the director of golf at the National Golf Club (now Pinehurst #9), there are over 40 golf courses in the county, and I had two brothers who loved the game. When people hear this, they think that I must have started playing competitive golf by the time I could walk.

Because of my father, Tom Parsons, it wasn’t.

I played every other sport known to man when I was a kid. Soccer, hockey, softball, tennis and even football. Yet, no golf. Once in a while, I’d have fun on the golf course with my dad and brothers, messing around in bunkers and finding the biggest pine cone I could find.

I was begging my dad to let me attend summer golf camps at the National Golf Club with my brothers and he kept saying “not yet”. For some reason, this man knew exactly when I needed to start playing golf, and he was determined to do so.

By the time I was 12 and entering college, I wanted to play for the golf team. Golf was the ONLY sport you could try as a 6th grader, and I was obsessed with the sport back then. I begged my dad to let me start playing golf so I could compete, and he finally relented.

The summer before my 6th grade, I participated in my very first golf tournament. With a lot of practice before the event, I didn’t know what to expect.

I won with my dad on the sack. I shot an impressive 40-something for 9 holes, but I won. From there, my little competitive heart was hooked.

I remember I started on a par 3 with a 6 iron in my hand. I was so nervous and so excited I felt like I was drinking a gallon of soda before I left. The second I hit my shot, I ran to the green. It was my first tournament, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. My dad finally caught up with me, handed me my putter and said, “I’m as excited as you are, but let’s go.

When I was 14, I was helping my dad teach summer camps I was begging to attend. At 15 I was marking strictly in the 70s, at 16 I had a hole-in-one and an albatross, and at 17 I was up to signing day with my family, scribbling my autograph on a piece of paper for my full scholarship to a Division I college golf program.

My dad was by my side the whole time. I am always moved to talk about my father and how he shaped my golf game, my career and my life. Most of our relationship was built on a golf course. And because of that, I may never find myself leaving the world of golf.

When he watched me play in golf tournaments, he always applauded me, whether the shot was good or bad. He knows how difficult golf is, he knows I didn’t want to hit a bad shot, and he knows how exciting a good shot can be. After every lap he would let me vent or celebrate, and he was always positive no matter what.

Thanks to him, I have a motto with my students: “There is no positive in being negative.”

I have seen the effects of being negative on your children who play golf, and I am the effect of being positive on your child who plays golf.

My dad was by my side the whole time. I am always moved to talk about my father and how he shaped my golf game, my career and my life.”

I loved golf more than anything at a young age, and I still love it because of that,

Abby, 12, watched my dad give lessons, give speeches to large crowds before or after an event, mingle with members, and much more. He loved every second, and so did I.

When I was in college, my family moved to Minnesota to shorten my dad’s golf season. I worked for him in the golf shop, helping with tournaments, clinics and merchandise during the summers. It felt natural to me and it was easy to work for my idol.

Now, I write this from my office at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, where I am the 2nd Professional Golf Assistant. My first year I was a trainee, my second year I was a professional golf assistant, and now here I am. I wouldn’t be here without my dad.

Last year I took my dad and other family members to the Straits Course to play less than a month before the Ryder Cup. The big stands were up, the energy was high, the weather was sunny and 75. It was one of those rounds I will never forget. My dad told me he was proud of me and I thanked him for helping me get here.

Tom Parsons is the best PGA professional I know, but maybe I’m biased. Happy Father’s Day to all dads, but my dad: I hope you enjoy the 657th golf t-shirt I’m mailing you. Thank you for everything.