Tom Weiskopf and I were talking about the differences on the Tour since he first played, and aside from the money and the railroad ties, the biggest change is how well the players are treated. Tom told me that the players were polled in the mid-'80s and the most important issue was day care, which is standard on the Tour now, not better greens or bigger purses. When the prize money increased, players could afford to travel with their families. Now free minivans have replaced courtesy cars, and a pro can change a poopy diaper just as easily as he can get out of a pot bunker. All of this, of course, was foreign to me until Jan. 7, when Brandel E. Chamblee Jr. was born.
Traveling the Tour with an infant is as scary as leading a major, although I hadn't done either until my wife, Karen, and I took little Brandel with us to the Buick Invitational in San Diego. Now, as anyone who has traveled with a woman knows, the amount of luggage you carry is like the Richter scale—it increases exponentially. Add a child and you need a U-Haul to get to the airport. We packed every gadget and outfit Brandel will need for the next five years.
One change I noticed right away was the postround meal. Karen and I used to dress for dinner. Now I go straight from the course, wearing my visor and everything. In San Diego I learned that golf clothes are great if you get peed on. Since polyester is water-repellent, the stuff beads up. Our next week out, I learned that Hawaii is not infant-friendly. For one thing, waiting for an elevator and then slowly going up 29 floors when the baby needs to eat or be changed seems longer than waiting for Bemhard Langer to hit. Then on Thursday night I was out doing some last-minute Valentine's Day shopping, and when I got back, I found a note from Karen saying that she had taken the baby to the hospital. My heart developed the yips, but it turned out that Brandel only had a bad case of diaper rash and colic. I was relieved by the diagnosis, but we didn't get to bed until 1 a.m., and I had a 7:10 tee time. After four hours of sleep, I shot 67. Apparently, I've been sleeping way too much, a habit little Brandel seems determined to break.
Being a parent changes your perspective on golf. I remember racing past Tom Lehman and his family on a busy highway in 1990 as we were driving to a Hogan tour event. Tom gave me a hard time about my speeding later, saying that I'd understand when I had kids. It took seven years, but when I hold my little boy in my hands and see him smile, I'm filled with awe and joy, and I understand.