Myra Blackwelder was a passionate golfer for more than 20 years when she woke up one morning, looked at her two young children and realized her heart belonged at home, not on the road.
“I guess I was mature enough to know that my will wasn’t in it anymore,” Blackwelder says. “You can will the ball to go into the hole, but I just knew that I wasn’t able to get that energy because I wanted to give it to my children instead.”
Blackwelder has been golfing since she was 13; she joined the LPGA tour in 1980. She spent 13 years on the tour, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1980. She played 9 seasons of her career as a “Mom on Tour.” She was seven months pregnant with her second child when she placed 16th in the S&H Golf Classic in 1987. After Mallory was born, she returned to the tour and recorded her season-best finish of that year in the Rail Charity Golf Classic.
During those years, Blackwelder’s family–husband Worth, son Myles and daughter Mallory, now a collegiate golf whiz herself—traveled with her. Today, Blackwelder is the golf team coach for the University of Kentucky. She tells Traveling Mom how she survived a whirlwind pro golf tour with two young children in tow.
TMOM: Were you staying in hotels when you traveled with the kids?
MYRA BLACKWELDER: Yes, in the beginning we stayed in hotels exclusively. After my second child, Mallory, was born, I played in New York and we were up there in the White Plains hotel. We flew in, rented a car –had to get the biggest car we could possibly get. We had duffel bags, toys, it was just crazy. It took me six hours to pack. We had 21 pieces of luggage. I said to Worth, “I cannot do this. I just can’t be packing all this stuff every week. It’s going to kill me.”
So we bought a 40-foot motor home that had a washer and dryer. We were able to transport all the things necessary for the kids to enjoy their life, such as bikes, playpens and strollers, and off we went. We had a lot of fun in those years. Worth was in charge of all the logistics. The motor home helped us have some sort of normalcy, and served as a home away from home. The kids were able to sleep in the same bed each night.
TMOM: Did you pull a car too?
MYRA BLACKWELDER: We did. The motor home was 40 feet long and pulling the car made a total of 56 feet long.
TMOM: In a lot of ways, traveling for golf brought you closer.
MYRA BLACKWELDER: Yes, we enjoyed a lot of great travel in the first years of my children’s lives. Myles remembers much of it. Mallory was very young when I retired and doesn’t really remember much of the travels. Last winter I digitized most of our home movies taken on the tour and my children, who are now young adults, have really enjoyed watching them over and over.
TMOM: Do you have any guilt looking back?
MYRA BLACKWELDER: No, we had a lot of fun but I am glad I stopped when I did.
TMOM: How did you know it was time to stop?
MYRA BLACKWELDER: To be successful, you have to be willing to do what other people aren’t willing to do. All of a sudden, almost overnight, I knew I wasn’t willing to pay the price anymore. I just wanted to be home more for my family.