RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Last year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Mo Martin received a standing ovation on the Walk of Champions as she approached the 18th green. After crossing over the bridge, she heard fans start cheering again. A confused Mo looked back and saw they were clapping for her grandfather, Lincoln Martin, who was coming behind in a scooter.
Lincoln, who died peacefully at age 102 on March 25 at his ranch home in Porterville, Calif., deserved every bit of attention he received, though he never asked for any of it.
“He was the most peaceful person I’ve ever met,” Martin said. “None of us have ever heard him say a bad word about anybody. So to be that grateful and that simple and that smart and that kind, I mean, I can’t think of a better influence in my life.”
The big joke in the Martin family is that Lincoln, who traveled to many Symetra Tour and LPGA events over the years, received more media attention than Mo, a 31-year-old now in her third year on the LPGA. In fact, Mo’s aunt Mary had a shirt made that read “I’m Lincoln Martin’s granddaughter.”
Lincoln lived through a depression, two World Wars and helped change the way we search for oil and fly airplanes. He started every morning with a bowl of Corn Pops mixed with half and half and two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Over 300 people attended Lincoln’s 100th birthday party. Mo liked to call him legendary. She called him every day after her father died suddenly at age 60.
Lincoln, who was battling both prostate and skin cancer, was supposed to watch Mo in Phoenix two weeks ago but told her he didn’t have the strength. When she called that Sunday, her aunt said Lincoln could no longer support his weight to get out of bed. Mo knew it would be quick because Lincoln was so independent. She drove nine hours to the ranch, arriving at 3:30 a.m.
“He was waiting for me,” Mo said. “He (had) asked to be shaved.”
A day and a half later, Lincoln died. He asked that there be no funeral to make things easy on everyone else. The family plans to hike his ashes up to the Sierra Mountains.
For the last 10 years, Mo has made her grandfather a priority. On off-weeks, she flew to him, and he often hit to the road to watch her play.
Lincoln’s book-worthy life included a year spent living on a steamship as a musician to escape the Great Depression. He taught himself to play golf in 1939 by reading a Sam Snead book while working for Shell Oil Company on the island of Java.
He quit his work as a geophysicist and got a degree in aeronautical engineering so he could help strengthen U.S. air power during wartime. Lincoln invented a vortex generator that’s still used on modern planes.
The “Go Mo” buttons are out this week at Mission Hills, but the gallery is noticeably one person short. Still, Mo knows her grandfather watched her climb the leaderboard on Friday with a 4-under 68 that put her in a tie for ninth. There’s no place else he’d want her to be.
At age 95, Lincoln even wrote her a song about it:
Oh, Melissa, oh, Melissa,
when my time has come,
when you hear my call,
just keep hitting that little white ball.