The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 7, 2013

The very real life of a PGA wife

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

— What living the life of a PGA wife might mean to those imagining glitz and glamour deserving of its own reality show is not Sarah McGirt’s reality.

This is the down-to-earth South Carolina native’s third year of The Greenbrier Classic event, accompanying husband William McGirt, who turned pro in 2004. The lion’s share of her attention is split between faithfully supporting her spouse in his golf career and making and making life as normal as possible for their son, Mac, just 6 months old.

“There are 100 kids this week at The Classic traveling with their parents,” observed Sarah, showing pictures from her phone of an impromptu Greenbrier pool party she and fellow PGA wives with toddlers organized for those children celebrating their birthdays this year.

“The summers are fun on tour. It’s a big family atmosphere where more wives who have school-aged children also come. The Greenbrier is week one of the first weeks when you see tons of kids,” Sarah commented. This time last year, Sarah was pregnant with Mac at The Greenbrier. Now, she gets to spend time with other PGA wives and mothers, sharing remedies for teething, the best hotels to book for families and other survival tips.

The year is also the first to launch a new tradition for her family — meeting Will at the 18th hole with Mac, an act she says is comforting to the new dad, regardless of what happens on the green.

“Mac is a great stress reliever for Will, no matter how he plays. Just to have him at that last hole, whether he’s played good or bad. He knows we will always be there for him.”

Before heading on tour with McGirt, there was a near eight-year stretch when Sarah didn’t watch a single round of golf. As a busy project manager for the distribution center of Adidas Footwear in Spartanburg, S.C., she also recalls a quarter of a year where she saw her husband, whom she first met in college, for only one week. The two have been married nine years.

Since, she hasn’t regretted the decision to give up her career to focus on motherhood and on supporting Will through the ups and downs of life as a professional athlete.

“The great thing is that now we get to be together,” she stated.

Another opportunity Sarah relishes is her membership in the PGA Wives Association, a nonprofit organization of golf wives dedicated to supporting charities benefiting children in need and their families.

The group recently released a cookbook published by Butler Books, titled “Beyond the Fairways and Greens,” to raise money for their endeavors and to give fans an intimate glimpse into the lives of their favorite golfers as only those who know them best can.

Sarah’s contribution to the book, which includes personal memoirs, is a recipe for homemade spaghetti with turkey meatballs, her husband’s favorite. Along with it, she shared a story of how she was mentored by another PGA wife on the rules for caddying — not the clubs, but the challenges that come with them.

“PGA wives have to be super supportive. You have no control over how they play. Everybody is here to win.”

What truly lies beyond the greens is the secret that their husbands are regular guys off the course, with more than a fair share of what Sarah calls “truly awesome dads” in the mix.

“It’s nothing to see a player here out at the pool with his kids or out at the swings. For the most part, PGA dads are really hands-on parents.”

In addition to her excitement about the book project, Sarah recalls her recent favorite event with the PGA Wives Association — the St. Jude’s Art Party, held each June at the St. Jude Classic, Memphis. There, she says she participated in face painting, drawing and painting on canvas and art-related activities with young patients with as a service project.

“There are children I’ve seen there all three years. I realized seeing one boy who was there last year and again this year that his family had been living in Memphis for an entire year.”

The parents’ dedication is what Sarah most admires, and something she hopes to exemplify in the life of her own son.

This was the first of five straight travel weeks for the McGirt family. Sarah takes care of booking hotels and flights and making dinner arrangements. She is also the family accountant, with an equally full plate as a full-time mom. Neither she nor Will is complaining, though; right now, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We are going to keep traveling now, because we won’t be able to do it forever. It’s important that Mac is able to play sports and to be a normal kid. So much of his life will always revolve around his dad’s job. We want him to have something of his own.”

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com