Next week I'm going to the Bahamas to be my dad's partner for the fourth time in the Office Depot Father-Son Challenge. I'm sentimental about the event because it reminds me of the defining role the game has played in my relationship with my father, Lee.
When I was a baby, my parents divorced, and I moved with my mom to Missouri. Dad used to come by in his jet once or twice a year, and we'd talk on the phone every month or two, but otherwise we didn't have much of a relationship. Things changed, though, when I was seven and saw Dad playing golf on TV for the first time. "Ricky, that's your father," Mom said. I was shocked because I didn't know Dad was such a good golfer or so famous. Next time Dad and I spoke I asked him for clubs, and a set arrived a couple of days later. I hit balls on our 12-acre farm, and by the time I was 10 I was shooting 40 for nine holes.
As my interest in golf blossomed, so did my relationship with Dad. When I was 14, I moved in with Dad in New Mexico. That's when he really got involved in my life. Dad hosted fund-raisers for my Huntingdon College ( Ala.) golf team, and he was the best man at my wedding, a moment I'll always treasure.
What's funny is that we're so darn similar despite all the time apart. We have the same builds, golf stances, putting strokes, happy outlooks, voices and laughs. I once spoke on the phone to Judy Pierre, Dad's office manager, for 10 minutes before she said, "Rick, I thought you were your father!"
I used to own automotive tune-up centers and sell Cadillacs, but eight years ago I got out of the car business to pursue my dream and follow Dad's footsteps into golf. I started as a caddie master, but now I'm the director of golf at a great instructional facility, which is the home of the Trevino Golf Schools. Having Dad's name hasn't hurt my career, but a much bigger help has been his love and support. And his deadly short game.