2003: Code melds family, fairways

On a list that spans 21 years and includes Jack Nicklaus, Earl Woods and Robert Trent Jones, Brian Code isn’t the most high-profile winner of Golfweek’s Father of the Year.

But few could question the choice of Code, 49, a Tampa father of three children – a son and daughter who have played college golf and another courageous daughter who is on her way. Toss in Code’s standing as seven-year president of the Greater Tampa Junior Golf Association, his three years as co-chairman (with wife, Karen) of the American Junior Golf Association Avila Junior Classic and his Sunday afternoons spent playing golf with his children and teaching them the game, and you’ve got a father worthy of recognition.

“All three children started playing golf at a very young age and the love of the game got in their blood,” said Karen, Brian’s wife of 28 years. “Summer evenings and Saturday afternoons he’d be practicing with them, playing each other in chipping and putting contests and generally just fooling around the course. Most Sundays, the family foursome teed it up after church.”

About the time son Jordan was 7 and daughter Whitney was 5, Brian Code quit the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning rounds with his friends and concentrated on the weekend outings with his children.

“It wasn’t some master plan,” said Brian, who once carried a 3 handicap and now plays to an 8. “It just kind of worked out that way. Whitney asked me if I could teach her to play like I was teaching Jordan. At first I said, ‘You’ll have to wait until you’re 9.’

“But then Karen said, ‘How many dads have their daughter begging them to play golf?’ – and that got me to thinking. Then Mallory got old enough and joined in. I’ve been playing with them ever since.”

Those weekend sessions with dad paid off because each of the Code children has enjoyed success in competitive golf.

Jordan, 22, a three-time letter winner for the University of Florida golf team who graduated with a 3.44 grade-point average in May, was the Gators’ captain last season. He was ranked as high as 15th in the Golfweek/Titleist junior rankings, qualified for the

U.S. Junior in 1998 and played in numerous AJGA tournaments.

Whitney, 20, also plays golf at Florida, where she carries a 3.92 GPA through her sophomore year. She has lettered twice, and has been an NCAA Academic All-American. Whitney won five AJGA tournaments and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the junior rankings.

Mallory, 18, is not yet in college, yet her story is remarkable. Born with cystic fibrosis and later diagnosed with diabetes and asthma, Mallory has been featured nationally in several publications and also on national television for her courage while playing competitive junior golf. She has won four AJGA tournaments, has won several awards and speaks frequently around the country on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Mallory plans to play at Florida beginning this fall, giving the family “a sleeve of Gators,” she said.

The Code children’s golf accomplishments are many, but it is the lessons they learned, and continue to learn, by playing that are just as important, according to their father.

“Golf has given me a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my children, and it is a game that teaches great lessons,” Brian Code said. “It is a game that teaches kids how to deal with disappointment in the same way that they deal with success.

“That’s a great parallel to life.”

– For a more detailed look at the Codes, plus a list of past winners of Golfweek’s Father of the Year, visit www.golfweek.com/articles/2003/business/people/33628.asp

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