The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, June 17, 2021
My friend Judi — 5 summer golf reads — Must-click women's golf links
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My friend Judi
I distinctly remember one of the first times that I met Rob Harpum.
I had just started working in Triple Crown Country Club’s pro shop after a number of years outside as a cart attendant and this member strolled in one day to talk with the head golf professional. I’m sure I had seen him around before — it’s quite difficult to miss a golf cart with a Union Jack seat cushion — but this day is my earliest memory of beginning to get to know him.
Being the aggressive Anglophile that I am, I was instantly fascinated by the boisterous, thick English accent with which the man spoke and I made sure to introduce myself, wanting to know more about this international’s heritage. While I don’t recall exactly what was said, I remember he and I had a lively albeit brief conversation that most likely involved me gushing over how cool it was that he was British.
From that introduction onward, Rob quickly became one of my favorite members and we would always chat every time he popped in the shop before his early, dew-sweeping rounds on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I even began to get to know his family: his son Christopher, who was an exceptional junior golfer, and his wife and fellow Brit Judi.
I knew Chris fairly well — he often accompanied his father and his friends on those morning weekend loops or would be hanging out with his buddies hitting balls and cutting up on the driving range. I only occasionally bumped into Judi either picking up or dropping off Chris for lessons or attending the trophy ceremonies for her son.
We would exchange hellos and pleasantries typical of any member/staff interaction and on to our respective days we would go, me to my work and her to her motherhood, mere acquaintances with a common denominator of knowing Rob.
I’m not sure when I learned about the cancer, but it was most definitely a surprise. You see, Judi was a total badass. She was poised, stoic even. She didn’t suffer fools and said things exactly as they were often tinged with the driest of humor that’s so stereotypical of the English. You never would’ve guessed the internal battle that she was waging with her own body and it was her ability to just drive right on that made her strength that much more admirable.
Whereas Rob and I were friends almost immediately, Judi and I grew close when I began to become invested in Chris’s golf career and coach him in middle school golf in 2017 and she was an impeccable example of a “golf mom”. We’d often discuss her son and his golf prowess and she’d matter of factly recount his rounds, not worried if they were good or bad but more focused on his attitude on the course than the numbers he shot.
She was incredibly proud of him you could tell, but Judi always did what she could to keep Chris’s perspective in check because, as she knew better than anyone, golf wasn’t life or death. It was simply just a game.
After that season, the conversations became more frequent and our relationship blossomed with them, with her and Rob stopping by the pro shop on their daily walks of their black Labrador Bollox (yes, you read that correctly…Bollox) and offers of a place to rent if I ever wanted to live closer to work.
I quickly found a lifelong friendship with the Harpums, and, when I left the club to pursue a career in golf media, they were supportive and requested that I drop by their house every time I was in town to catch up over a few glasses of wine and from 2018 on, that was the tradition when our mutual schedules allowed for it. Meeting up with them was always a highlight of my trips home, one that I made a point to schedule every time I could, one that now will never be the same.
We lost Judi last week.
Every possible treatment was done, every possible doctor seen, every clinical trial tested, but in the end, the cancer just couldn’t be cured. She fought it valiantly and fought it hard, doing so without ever complaining, without ever questioning the hand that she was dealt. She just played with the cards that she had, living her life as best as she could as gracefully as she could, with never-ending strength.
I’m devastated for Rob and Chris because no one should ever have to lose their partner or their mother so early in life and especially not in this way. The worst things happen to the best people and it’s something none of us will ever fully understand. She was a great woman in every sense of the word and I count myself lucky to have gotten to know her and be her friend.
In the wake of news like this, you often get a fresh dose of perspective, one that really makes you sit back and look at your life through a different lens.
After hearing of Judi’s passing, I started to think about how little certain things really mean in the big scheme of things, how meaningless the things that we worry about day in and day out truly are when you consider the swiftness of mortality. We get caught up in the trivialities and the most minuscule of problems when what truly matters is how we handle ourselves in the face of adversity and the relationships we make.
I think when I look back on Judi and her life and our friendship, that’s what I’ll remember most. That nothing, absolutely nothing except life and death is life or death.
Everything else is simply just a game.
This week in women’s golf
(Reminder: First: the underlined words are the links. Second: CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers, and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Here’s how teenager Sophia Howard got to hang out with her idols, Nelly and Jessica Korda, at the Meijer LPGA Classic. (via LPGA.com)
Visa issues are keeping Brittany Henderson from looping for her sister this week. (via Golfweek.com)
Xiyu Lin is chasing an Olympics berth in her next two starts. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s how and where to watch the Meijer LPGA Classic. (via LPGA.com)
USWO champion Yuka Saso got to meet her idol, Rory McIlroy, at Torrey Pines ahead of the U.S. Open. (via GolfDigest.com)
PXG to sponsor a match play event for up-and-coming women’s golf professionals. (via Golfweek.com)
Finland sees its first-ever LPGA Tour winner in Matilda Castren. (via Golfweek.com)
More on Matilda Castren’s historic win at MEDIHEAL. (via GolfDigest.com)
Min Lee wasn’t too bothered with her runner-up finish on Sunday. (via LPGA.com)
Learn more about the LPGA Tour’s Lauren Kim. (via Golfweek.com)
That’s Min Lee, not Minjee Lee, who’s been making women’s golf headlines lately. (via Golfweek.com)
These are Inbee Park’s keys to success in life and golf. (via GOLF.com)
Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson are proud of their Scandinavian Mixed event as they very well should be. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Thomas Bjørn hopes that the Scandinavian Mixed effectively showcased the women’s game to golf fans. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
The players of the Ladies European Tour hope that the Scandinavian Mixed is as impactful as possible. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Alice Hewson stepped up and showed out at the Scandinavian Mixed. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Check out this player blog from the LET by Linda Wessberg. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
OCEANTEE is a Global Good Awards finalist. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here’s a preview of the Symetra Tour’s Prasco Charity Championship. (via SymetraTour.com)
Morgane Metraux nabs her first win on the Symetra Tour. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s everything you need to know about Morgane Metraux. (via SymetraTour.com)
This is what’s in the bag of the most recent winner on the Symetra Tour, Morgane Metraux. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s the full list of Golfweek’s All-American women collegiate golfers. (via Golfweek.com)
Tweets of the Week
Five at The IX: Summer golf reads
Who says beach reads have to JUST be romances or murder mysteries? Check out these five golf books and brush up on your golf history, get inspired to go play, or improve your game this summer.