Another, often unspoken, reason that the wives travel the Tour is to keep a tight leash on their men. "When you're not there, you don't know what's going on," says Amy McBride, the soon-to-be bride of Phil Mickelson. "I trust Phillip, but you know how girls are. I used to get a little bent out of shape when other girls would send him roses, or put notes in his locker or slip him room keys." McBride says such propositioning has cooled off now that she's chaperoning Mickelson. Of course, to do so, McBride had to quit her job as a Phoenix Suns dancer and put her dream of a career in broadcast journalism on hold. Now she's facing perhaps the toughest part of being a Tour wife (or fiancée), the hollow-ness that comes from sacrificing one's personal ambition to support another's. "Sometimes you feel insecure, like you're kind of worthless," says McBride. "Some days you wake up and say, 'I'm going to start my own business today. I didn't go to school for all those years just to do nothing.' "
Patti Inman knows the feeling. Last season when her husband, a 10-year vet, was sidelined with a back injury, Patti rounded up the treasures from her years of haunting Ilea markets and opened an antique shop in Atlanta with Carolyn Dougherty, whose husband, Ed, was also injured for a good portion of the year. Appropriately named The Vagabonds, the shop was a big success. But with John and Ed both healthy again and playing regularly, the shop has been boarded up. "I just really needed to be out on the road supporting John," Patti says. "Giving up your career is a tough, tough decision, but marriage is all about teamwork, and you have to do what's best for the team."
A handful of wives have been able to juggle Tour life with full-time careers. Linda (Mrs. Jeff) Sluman is a practicing oncologist at the University of Chicago, Jody (Mrs. Billy) Andrade has her own sports consulting firm, while Karen (Mrs. Brandel) Chamblee is a flight attendant with American Airlines who's often able to match her schedule with the Tour's. Linda (Mrs. Rocco) Mediate sells children's books, and Sandra (Mrs. Ronnie) Black recently cut a tejano album. They are the exceptions.
Jody Reedy married Billy Andrade shortly after graduating cum laude in economics from Wake Forest, in 1988. By the end of her fourth month on the road she had started working for CBS on its golf coverage. "Traveling was great for the first couple of months, and then I got so bored I felt like I was going to wilt," says Andrade. "Being a wife and a mother is a full-time job, but I just don't get the intellectual stimulation I need." In 1993 Jody got a master's degree in sports administration from Georgia State and launched Andrade Consulting out of an office in their Atlanta home. "It's hard on a marriage to be apart," she says, "but this is what I need to do."
Likewise for Sluman. She was in her third year of medical school at Illinois when she met Jeff at the 1988 Western Open. Jeff won the '88 PGA—their second date. They were engaged three months later, but it was nearly six years before they spent an uninterrupted month together. "He does his thing and I do mine," Linda says. "That's how we like it." With her 40-to 60-hour workweeks, Linda can only travel to a half-dozen or so tournaments a year, and usually just for the weekends. She has forged an identity of her own, which extends all the way to using her maiden name at the hospital. "In some circles Jeff is known as Mr. Skoog," says Linda with a chuckle.
Still, the overwhelming career choice among Tour wives is domestic engineer. "My job is to take care of her," says Gallagher, cooing at her cherubic daughter of three months, Allison, "and Jeff's job is to take care of us." Adds Lehman, "Imagine how hard it is to raise a kid on airplanes and golf courses and in hotel rooms and restaurants. Now imagine trying to raise three." Lehman tries to make road trips homey for Rachael, 5, Holly, 3, and Thomas, 10 months, by bringing familiar blankets, toys (Baywatch Barbie being the favorite) and portable cribs, and by keeping a consistent nap schedule. "But you can't be too uptight out here, because an entire itinerary can change in about 10 seconds," she says.
Keeping that in mind, here's a typical Lehman family day on the road: A wake-up call comes at 6:30, courtesy of Thomas's hunger pangs. While Melissa nurses the baby, Tom will roust the girls, who stay in an adjoining room. Tom then heads for the golf course, where he'll wolf down a snack while the others order from room service. It sounds extravagant, Melissa laments, but it's a lifesaver, and even the kids know it. Recently Rachael was watching her mom scrounge together a meal at home in Scottsdale, Ariz., when she said, "Mom, let's just order room service."
Tom cedes the courtesy car to Melissa, so her first stop is the day-care center that's provided by each tournament. There the girls fall into their cliques with the other Tour kids. Occasionally Melissa will sneak out with the baby to watch Tom play nine holes. But it's a must that they're all back at the hotel for two o'clock naps. Later in the afternoon Melissa and the kids will check out the local sights, especially zoos, parks, beaches and amusement parks. Tom is home around sunset, often after bumming a ride from another player, and the Lehmans then trundle off to Cracker Barrel or another restaurant of the family genre. After dinner it's baths, lullabies and bedtime—for the kids too.
Not that Mr. Lehman gets to shirk his domestic duties. "I flippantly call him my nanny," Melissa says. "He's all mine once he's done at the golf course. I don't consider him any different from a father who works at an office 9 to 5 and then has to come home and take care of the kids." Tom doesn't mind the work. "Spending time with the kids is stabilizing," he says. "It brings back some perspective. You try to be a normal person as much as you can, even though it's a very abnormal lifestyle."
For the underappreciated wife there always seems to be a catch. Says Melissa, "The instant people see Tom holding hands with the girls or pushing the baby, they're like, Oh, what a great dad. Puh-leeze! I've been bustin' my butt all day, so how come I'm not getting any kudos?"