And now some champagne wishes and caviar dreams from the wives of PGA Tour players, for whom, it is presumed, home is a beach house on Easy Street, a bad hair day means having to wear raccoon instead of mink, car trouble is getting a Buick as a courtesy car rather than a Cadillac, and 9 to 5 are the hours at the sauna, not the office.
"I would be happy never to spend another night in an airport, because there have been plenty of those already," says Patti (Mrs. John) Inman. "I got pretty sick of carrying all the luggage, but my studly golfer was afraid of hurting his back," says Cindy (Mrs. Emlyn) Aubrey, who lugged the bags for six years, until she became pregnant. "It would be nice if we didn't have to fit our whole lives into a suitcase and then pack and unpack it twice weekly," says Kim (Mrs. Jeff) Gallagher. "And then you get to schlepp it all to the laundromat—if you're lucky enough to find one," says Julie (Mrs. Ben) Crenshaw. "Usually you wind up in the seediest part of town, folding your underwear while trying to dodge the bullets from a drive-by shooting. I could do without that," says Kelli (Mrs. Jeff) Maggert. "I'd like to know how many American couples have to live, eat, breathe and sleep together day after day in some tiny hotel room," says Ashley (Mrs. Hal) Sutton. "You get so sick of restaurant food and room service that all you want to do is stand in front of a refrigerator and marvel at what's inside," says Inman. "Out here, the key to happiness is no snotty noses, no diarrhea and no amoxicillin," says Melissa (Mrs. Tom) Lehman.
Holy matrimony! This doesn't exactly jibe with the notion that a Tour wife's biggest problems are deciding what number sunblock to apply to her bikini lines and which of her husband's gold cards she should max out first. That stereotype, brought to life by Janie Ruth Puckett, the bubbleheaded hard body in Dan Jenkins's 1974 spoof of the Tour, Dead Solid Perfect, is way off base. "People think we lead a glamorous, romantic life of leisure," says Inman. "They have no idea."
Unlike the major team sports, golf has no off-season and no home games. It's a gypsy's life, lived largely in hotel rooms, airports and charmless suburbs. For a player's spouse, cultivating a career in the face of all the travel is nearly impossible, and the Tour is one of the few places left where a woman is expected to be a wife and mother and nothing else. Says Mr. Beth Kendall, Skip, a five-year veteran, "For the wives out here, it's all sacrifice. They don't have their own identity, their own goals or their own accomplishments. Being a Tour wife is the hardest job in the world."
It is gospel on Tour that behind every good golf swing is a good woman. The standard-bearer for a long time has been Barbara Nicklaus, Jack's college sweetheart. "She's the classiest woman in golf." says Ashley Sutton. "She's an icon to all of us out here." Barbara's support began early. On their honeymoon, Jack wanted to play a round al a slag golf club. Barbara dutifully gave her blessing. That kind of teamwork was the foundation on which Jack built his success, and both Nicklauses have always acknowledged it. Years ago they were discussing one of Jack's contemporaries who was expected to challenge the Bear's supremacy but never did.
"Well," said Barbara, "he wasn't married when he was on the Tour."
"That's right." said Jack. "He just couldn't get organized."
There's no doubting the importance of having a partner to share the logistics of a life on the road and to massage away the outrageous fortune that's part of the game. But what's in it for the wives?
"Simple," says Kim Gallagher. "Life is too short to be away from the ones you love."
Many of the women say they didn't quite know what they were signing on for when they married touring pros. During the Suttons' 11-month courtship, Ashley road-tripped to only four of Hal's tournaments. "I thought that's what it was going to be like—a nice, long vacation," she says. Is it still? "Hell, no!" she says with a whoop.