SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The first time Matt Parziale beat his father, Vic, in golf, he was 14 years old. They played 18 holes in just over two hours – walking – at D.W. Field Golf Course in Brockton, Mass.
Vic carded a 73. Matt shot 72.
“And I knew I’d never beat him again,” Vic said.
This week at the 118th U.S. Open, Matt has beaten many of the best golfers in the world. The 30-year-old mid-amateur from Brockton, Mass., was one of three amateurs to make the cut Friday at Shinnecock Hills and will enter Sunday tied for 33rd at 11 over.
He’ll do so with Vic, 58, on the bag – and on Father’s Day.
“It’s the best (Father’s Day) ever, you know?” Vic said. “The best one up until now, I’ll say. It could get better. You never know what’s going to happen in this life.”
The Parziales share quite the bond, one that is strengthened by their love of golf and firefighting.
As a kid, Matt aspired to be a pro golfer. But after turning pro out of Southeastern College in 2009, Matt needed only three years to discover that he didn’t enjoy grinding it out on the mini-tours and not having any money. He decided instead to follow in Vic’s footsteps and become a firefighter.
The new career still allowed him to compete, but again as a reinstated amateur.
“I have the best of both worlds,” Matt said.
Last summer, Matt’s world changed forever. He won the U.S. Mid-Amateur, with Vic as his caddie, and earned himself spots in this year’s Masters and U.S. Open. Matt missed the cut at Augusta National, but not before an incredible experience that included a practice round with Tiger Woods.
A couple of months before the Masters, Matt invited Vic to join him for two practice rounds at Augusta National.
“I’d never thought I’d see the place,” Vic said.
Yet there he was enjoying 36 holes of pure bliss with his son on one of the best golf courses in the world. The months since have been equally satisfying for both father and son.
“I’m having a blast,” Matt said.
The fun will continue on a very special Father’s Day Sunday on Long Island.
• • •
Webb Simpson was 12 years old when his father, Sam, took him to play Augusta National for the first time.
Webb remembers seeing a new Scotty Cameron putter, the one with the Teryllium insert, in the pro shop and asking his dad if he could buy it for him. Sam Simpson agreed, but on one condition: Webb had to break 77.
Father and son then headed to the first tee, and 17 holes later Webb was 8 over. If he wanted the putter, he was going to have to hole out for eagle on the last hole.
“I wasn’t going to do it,” Webb said. “But then I talked him into buying it for me still if I made birdie.”
Webb made par. His dreams of rolling in putts with that beautiful Scotty were gone – or so he’d thought. Sam ended up buying the putter anyway, secretly put it in the car and gave it to Webb when they got home.
“That’s just how he was,” Webb said of his dad, who died last November at age 74. “He always wanted to make my mom happy and the kids happy. He was always trying to please us and do stuff for us. He worked hard, it was his hard-earned money and he spent $300 for me on that putter.”
• • •
Two years ago at the 2016 Masters, Bryson DeChambeau earned low-amateur honors while his father, Jon, watched on in a motorized scooter. Jon DeChambeau was in poor health, having to do dialysis each night while his son competed at Augusta National, and it took every ounce of energy to be there to support his son.
Fast forward to last April and Bryson had qualified for his first Masters as a professional. His caddie in the Par 3 Contest? Dad.
Jon received a kidney from a high-school friend in March 2017 and despite having his left leg amputated was able to carry his son’s bag in arguably the most special nine-hole event of the year. He even got to hit a tee shot on the ninth hole.
Bryson’s words of advice to his pops, playfully: “Just don’t fall down.”
“I think the coolest thing was watching my dad hit that shot,” Bryson said. “It didn’t go on the green, it still went in the pond, but having no left leg, I mean, that’s pretty inspirational. For all the stuff that he’s been through, to be able to get up there and whack one in front of everybody was pretty special.
“I was really proud of him.”
For those who know Jon, he was likely more proud of Bryson that week.
• • •
The best Father’s Day gift that Jordan Spieth has given his father, Scott, was in 2015 when he won the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. But before Jordan started playing in U.S. Opens regularly, he and his dad used to play golf together on Father’s Day.
When an elementary-school-aged Jordan made his first birdie, Scott was there to witness it.
It was on the third hole at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas and Jordan had missed the green. He then took a wedge and chipped in for his first career circle.
It would’ve been hard to tell who was more excited, Jordan or Scott.
“It’s moments like that early on in childhood, you know, when you’re a kid that help you fall in love with the game,” Spieth said. “And I vividly remember that one still, the chip. I don’t remember how old I was, but there’s a big hill, and it was kind of blind, and I remember chipping it in and that being one of my fondest earliest golf memories.”
• • •
Having a father who worked the night shift has its advantages.
“Every day when I’d get home from school I had someone to play sports with,” said Gary Woodland. “Playing catch, shooting basketballs, going to the golf course, as a kid it was like having a best friend every day.”
Woodland’s earliest memories with his father, Dan, were when he was about a year old, walking with his dad on the golf course. Twelve years later, when Gary was 13, he beat Dan for the first time in 18 holes, at Shawnee (Kan.) Golf and Country Club.
“He’s still not happy about that,” said Gary, who edge Dan by a shot, and then called several family members, including his grandparents.
“Other sports, like basketball, I couldn’t beat him in because he’d never let me win,” Gary said. “But golf I got to him a little quicker.”
Before Gary knows it, his son Jaxson, who turns 1 on June 24, will be trying to beat his dad on the golf course.
• • •
Fourteen years ago at Shinnecock Hills, Bill Haas and his dad, Jay, became just the second father-son duo to compete and make the cut in a U.S. Open, following Joe Kirkwood Sr. and Joe Kirkwood Jr. in 1948.
Jay, at age 50, held a share of the first-round lead that year, but through 54 holes, he was tied with Bill at 6 over. The Haases weren’t paired together on Sunday, but Bill, playing as an amateur and in the group behind, got to watch his dad make a charge back into the top 10 with a final-round 71.
Jay beat Bill by 10 shots that day.
“So father won,” Bill said. “It was a really hard day, but he really played well.”
Jay made the trip to Shinnecock this year, though as a spectator. Bill made the cut and will play the final round on Father’s Day with not only dad watching, but also his two sons, William Jr. and Harrison.
“Being a dad now, I appreciate him even more,” Bill said. “I’ve always respected his ability in golf, but I respect him even more as a man and a father. I love him very much.”
• • •
When Xander Schauffele was in elementary school, his father – and swing coach – Stefan made a deal with him: If Xander beat his dad in golf before he was 13 years old, he would win some money.
The younger Schauffele couldn’t remember exactly how much. All he knows is he never was paid when he, at age 12, defeated Stefan in 18 holes at Barona Creek Golf Club in Lakeside, Calif.
“I knew I was going to beat him after 14 holes and he kind of threw in the towel,” Xander said. “And I was just soaking it up the whole time.”
Stefan hasn’t beaten his son since. As for the debt, Xander said, “It’s all good.”
Stefan has had a priceless impact on his son’s golf career, which has taken off in the past year with two victories last season and a T-2 finish at last month’s Players Championship that moved Xander to a career-high 23rd in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Yeah, the $6,308,541 Xander has made on the PGA Tour in two seasons will do just fine.
• • •
When it comes to memories that he’s shared with his father, Jeff, on the golf course, Doug Ghim has some special ones.
Jeff was on the bag when Doug advanced to the final of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links, and again when he lost in last year’s final of the U.S. Amateur. That finish earned Doug spots in this year’s Masters and U.S. Open, where Jeff again caddied for his son.
Last April at Augusta National, Doug earned low-amateur honors and highlighted his week with a pair of first-round eagles, one at the par-5 13th and the second on a hole-out at the par-4 18th.
But the fondest memories with his dad? The ones that helped him get to this point. (Ghim is set to turn pro after a decorated amateur career and make his pro debut at the Travelers Championship next week.)
When Doug was in grade school, he would change into golf clothes during the last 15-minute recess of the school day. Once the bell rang, he’d race out the doors of the school. Outside, Jeff would be waiting in the family’s Ford Explorer – with the door already open.
“I’d hop in and we’d see how many holes we could play before it got dark,” Doug said. “Racing the son after school is probably my favorite. That’s why I love the game.”