My Year in Golf: Beth Ann Nichols

Editor’s note: For our entire “My Year in Golf” series, click here.

• • •

The year began in the nursery of Mason Kerr. Cristie Kerr pulled old photo albums out of her son’s closet and sat them on the floor.

“Who do you think he looks like?” Kerr asked as she flipped through baby pictures of herself and husband Erik Stevens. Mason, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization and carried by a surrogate, is genetically theirs.

“Have you ever swaddled a baby?” Kerr inquired as she proceeded to give a demonstration. This marked the second time photographer Tracy Wilcox and I have visited the Kerrs at home in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it’s always an adventure.

Fast forward to the season-ending event in Naples, Fla., where Kerr took Mason out on the practice putting green after one of her rounds to let him walk around greeting players.

When it was time to go to work, Kerr handed Mason, who turned 1 on Dec. 8, back to the nanny, Stephanie.

He’ll be walking in putts of his own soon enough.

• • •

During an off-week last November Stacy Lewis, one of the best quotes in the game, agreed to meet up with yours truly and touring friends Cindy LaCrosse and Alison Walshe in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to help out with a Golfweek report about the shelf-life of LPGA players.

That lunch at Rocco’s Tacos lasted two hours.

What’s more, it was Lewis who came up with the idea to highlight the expenses of six players throughout the LPGA money list to help tour hopefuls get a better understanding of what it costs to compete. And she agreed to participate, though her agent later told her that contractually, she couldn’t reveal her endorsement earnings.

Lewis, an accounting and finance major, keeps her own books and went into great detail for Golfweek, so much so that there wasn’t room to print it all in the magazine.

Here’s what Lewis shared from her 2013 finances, along with the chart that accompanied the Nov. 21 story “Life After Golf.”

On course earnings: $2,158,573

Tax (only on course earnings):

Federal – $750,000

Foreign – $195,000

State – $21,000

Course Membership: $15,000


Caddie – $242,000

Coaches – $75,500

Entry Fees: $5,500

Travel Expenses:

Flights: $38,725

Lodging: $14,100

Food: $4,000

Car Rental: $4,800

Mis. Expenses: $2,750

Phone: $2,250

Health insurance: $4,000

House Expenses:

Mortgage: $25,000

Insurance (home, car, flood, personal): $4,600

House Bills (HOA, power, etc): $5,000

Property taxes: $5,200

• • •

The first time I saw Michelle Wie hit a golf shot in person was at the 2002 U.S. Girls’ Junior. Wie’s first-round match went to the 19th hole and I set off in pursuit, eager to see what the buzz was about. A dozen years later, I lingered after the awards ceremony at Pinehurst to watch Wie kiss the U.S. Women’s Open trophy for dozens of photographers, but mostly to see the reactions of her parents, Bo and B.J.

Two days later I was along for the ride (literally) in New York City as she embarked on a day-long media blitz. In New York, under the bright lights and over a burrito bowl at Chipotle, I saw a fun, mature, dazzling woman who turned heads at every corner and talked off-script.

Given all that she’s dealt with over the years – both self-inflicted and otherwise – it’s a remarkable success story.

One that’s far from finished.

• • •

My jaw dropped the day Auburn coach Kim Evans called with the news that Danielle Downey, 33, had died in a car crash.

I first met Downey at the 2003 NCAA Championship. She was a real character, and a list of players who called Downey a friend immediately sprang to mind. So many broken hearts.

For the next few days I listened to friends reminisce about a selfless player who was beginning to find her stride back at Auburn.

My favorite story came from Meredith Duncan, who laughed about the time she told Downey to go to her local Goodwill and buy the gaudiest Mardis Gras outfit she could find for the weekend of Duncan’s charity outing in Shreveport, La.

Downey showed up with an oversized green onesie, an “old-lady” purple jacket with shoulder pads, bright yellow socks and a pair of antique FootJoys. Duncan added a wide-brimmed bedazzled clown hat to complete the look.

It was only when Downey asked her friends to put on their parade “costumes” that she realized the joke was on her. Everyone else had packed jeans and sweatshirts.

Downey wore that green onesie for four straight days.

“She was just one-of-a-kind,” Duncan said.

• • •

When you pick up the phone to call someone you’ve never met who emerged from a coma months earlier to realize the love of his life had died in a car crash on the way to their wedding, it’s impossible to know how the conversation might go.

John Redman proved inspiring.

His tragic love story, along with the anguish and steadfast faith of his mother Susie, who played on the LPGA, is simply unforgettable.

At the end of interview, Redman asked if he could say one more thing.

“Six months after the wreck,” he said, “I woke up one morning and said it’s time to share my story. If I can help one person, I feel like it was worth it.”

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