BY MIKE FURYK
I tried to keep my son out of golf. In nine years as a club
professional in Pennsylvania, I learned the drawbacks of a
teaching pro's life. Working on weekends, I couldn't take my
family to church or to Sunday dinner. We couldn't take vacations
on the Jersey shore with friends. Still, when Jim turned 12, he
was determined to play. I agreed to help on one condition: that
he play not for me but because he was having fun.
Jim always had the now famous loop in his swing. It was Tour
player Bruce Lietzke, an acquaintance with an unconventional
swing of his own, who put my mind at ease about that. "Help him
trust the swing he has," Bruce said. "If he trusts it, his swing
will take him where he wants to go." From then on, we never
looked back. But I'll always remember what a big-name college
coach said after Jim won an American Junior Golf title. He said,
"With that swing, there's no way the kid'll play major college
golf." Another NCAA coach recruited Jim but said he couldn't
wait to change his swing. Fortunately, Arizona coach Rick LaRose
took Jim as he was, and he went on to be a two-time All-America.
Jim has won two Tour events and more than $4 million, but he
still calls me after every round. Lately we've had something new
to talk about. After decades of neglecting my own game, I'm
playing again. I have been entering Senior minitour events, and
do you know what's fun about that? Having Jim call to ask how I
Each of our phone calls ends the same way, with an echo of the
words I must have said to Jim a thousand times when he was
growing up. "Just one thing, Dad," he'll say. "When you're out
there, make sure you're having fun."
Mike Furyk does not have a loop in his swing.
BY JIM FURYK
I bugged my dad about golf for years. Finally he agreed to teach
me the game when I turned 12. He forgot saying that, but I filed
it away. On my 12th birthday I said, "O.K., it's time." I had
him! The next day he signed me up to play at the Overlook Golf
Course, a muni in our neighborhood, and I've been playing ever
Dad used to drop me off at junior tournaments and pick me up at
the end of the day. What I didn't know was that after dropping
me off, he'd park down the street and sneak back to the club to
watch me play. He didn't want me to be nervous.
It's been almost two decades since then, and Dad's still the
only teacher I've had. Nobody else knows my game the way he
does. We talk after every round, good or bad. If things get
tough for me, he drops what he's doing, gets on a plane and
comes to help. We'll be out on the range at some Tour stop,
working hard until we get my problem fixed, just like the old
days. Sometimes he takes my game more seriously than I do. Not
long ago I called him to complain that the ball wasn't coming
off my putter correctly. A few nights later I was sound asleep
when the phone rang. "Jim, I've been thinking about that putting
problem," he said. He had been dwelling on it for three days
while I was sleeping in.
Whenever I play, I remember him telling me that if golf isn't
fun, it's not worth playing. Even now, 16 years and 40 days
after my 12th birthday, I couldn't agree more. It's comforting
to know that he's still worrying about me, that he's always
there for me and, most of all, that we're both still having fun.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.
Jim Furyk is fifth on the PGA Tour money list.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [Mike Furyk and Jim Furyk]