NAPLES, Fla. –– Stacy Prammanasudh called her father after qualifying for the season-ending CME Group Titleholders in August and asked if he’d like to have one last loop. Lou Prammanasudh, 75, taught Stacy how to play the game and caddied her first four years on tour.
“I told him ‘You helped me get here,’ ” Stacy said, wiping tears from her eyes. “Why don’t you help me finish it.”
Prammanasudh, 34, missed the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year and went to go practice. It was on the range that it hit her: “I realized I don’t care one iota about trying to fix this. I have no desire to practice anymore.”
Prammanasudh and her husband, Pete Upton, have a son named Ryp, who will be 2 years old in January. Pete caddied for his wife the last seven years before getting a job with a freight company once Stacy was ready to start the next chapter. Sunday at Tiburon will end her 11th season on tour.
“Once I made the decision I felt a weight was totally lifted,” said Prammanasudh, known on tour as “Stacy P.”
A two-time winner on the LPGA and 2007 Solheim Cup participant, Prammanasudh and her family never dreamed she’d reach golf’s biggest stage. Lou, a retired oil field machinist who moved to the U.S. from Thailand in 1966, taught himself to play the game from reading magazines and books. Stacy, a native of Enid, Okla., took to her father’s teachings and earned a scholarship to the University of Tulsa, where she won 10 times.
“I didn’t grow up on the AJGA and do all that stuff that primed you for stardom,” said Prammanasudh. “All of this was beyond our expectations. It has been amazing.”
One of the few couples on tour who worked together, Stacy and Pete met by chance when paired together on the first tee in Tulsa while Stacy was in college.
“Being from Arkansas it took me a good three months to learn how to spell her name,” Pete once said.
Pete is easy-going to Stacy’s more high-strung personality. Good friend Katie Futcher said they each have their own outside interests off the course, making it less of a grind inside the ropes. Their relationship wasn’t just golf all the time.
And then in January 2012, Ryp came along. The couple spent a while trying to figure out the best time to have a baby, only to finally realize that on tour, there is no good time.
After the Safeway Classic in August, Prammanasudh stayed home during the fall swing and enjoyed an October like never before.
“There’s a fall festival at every church and it’s absolutely free,” said Prammanasudh.
She and Ryp went to the gym every morning and then went to story time at the local library three days a week before coming home for a nap. In December, Ryp will start swimming lessons.
Futcher recalled watching her best friend pull a train of luggage through the airport – golf bag, suitcase, baby supplies – and being amazed.
“What parents do on the road is really, really special,” said Futcher.
Prammanasudh puts it another way: “Our schedule is not conducive to families.”
From the beginning, Prammanasudh knew it wouldn’t last forever. She was “frugal” with her money when success came early and said she’s fortunate to be in a position where she doesn’t have to work. Since 2004, Prammanasudh has finished inside the top 60 on the money list each season with one exception: the year she gave birth.
In 2007, she finished a career-best 14th on on the money list and has amassed $3.5 million in career earnings.
One of the toughest parts of transitioning to a full-time life in Arkansas will be leaving behind her close friends on tour. In Toronto, Futcher and Prammanasudh talked about the conscious effort they will have to make to keep in touch as neither are “phone people.”
“You don’t have friends at home,” she said, wiping more tears. “That’s just the nature of the job.”
When Lou Prammanasudh picked up the phone and heard his daughter’s caddie request, he was hesitant at first. Lou had a knee scoped not long ago and his caddying days were long gone. But then Stacy said the magic words: Ryp will be there.
Grandpa was in.
He weighed down one of Stacy’s old staff bags and started walking around the neighborhood. He’s been “in training” for months.
“I think it’s special for him,” said Stacy, who brought him a carry bag.
For the player, too.