By Brad Ziemer
Like father, like son.
For three players at this week’s GolfBC Championship, that phrase rings especially true this Father’s Day weekend.
Jake Byrum, Case Cochran and Dru Love all have dads who won on the PGA Tour. They are all trying to follow in their father’s golfing footsteps and have learned the game is not as easy as their dads made it look.
Jake Byrum’s dad, Curt, now a Golf Channel analyst, and his mom Cindy followed their son around Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club on Thursday and Friday. Curt Byrum, whose lone PGA Tour win came at the 1989 Hardee’s Golf Classic, offers encouragement and advice when asked, but knows Jake must find his own way.
“It is funny,” Curt Byrum said. “I think I am just like any other dad who tries to give their kid advice. I think some of it goes in one ear and out the other. I try to help him along the way a little bit, but I think in most cases they have to figure this out on their own. They have to go get the experience and get out here and learn something. Hopefully that is what happens.”
Jake Byrum, 27, was not pushed by his parents into a pro golf career. Far from it. His first love was baseball and he didn’t take up golf until he was 17. “My dad always invited me to come practise with him and eventually I took that offer up and started going out and practising with him, but he never really pushed it on me,” Jake Byrum said. “He has always been in my corner. He supports me, he is my No.1 fan through all the ups and downs like this week. He is there for me, I know we are going to have a good dinner tonight and have a good weekend together.”
Jake missed the cut Friday, although he saw some encouraging signs in a second-round 69. He’ll head to Lethbridge for next week’s stop on the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour circuit after missing the cut in all three B.C. events.
“A lot of the mistakes he is making are sort of strategy type mistakes, you know, hitting the wrong club off the tee or missing the green in a wrong spot and not being able to get it up and down,” Curt Byrum said. “A lot of it is mental where you have to learn to be able to commit and hit shots when you need them and not be afraid to do it. There is a lot to learn.
“Any time he does something really crazy you just shake your head. But we all make mistakes. Golf is tough. I made plenty of mistakes all those years playing the PGA Tour. Hopefully he learns.”
Case Cochran did not take up golf late like Jake Byrum. The game has been a huge part of his life for as long as Cochran can remember. “In the Cochran household, if you were two and above, you played,” Case said. His dad, Russ, is a tall left-hander who had a long PGA Tour career that yielded one win, the 1991 Centel Western Open. He has won five times, including the 2011 Senior British Open, on the PGA Champions circuit.
Case Cochran, who hails from Paducah, Ky., joked that it did not go over well when the family learned he was a right-hander. “My dad is a lefty and my two brothers are lefty, so they made me sleep in the garage for a while when they found out I was a right-hander,” he said with a laugh. “I made it out of there and am playing up here now. So not too bad.”
Case, 30, has leaned heavily on his dad for advice since turning pro in 2013. They talk on the phone at least twice a week and Case always knows he’ll get a straight answer from his dad. “He is really a no-nonsense guy when it comes to skill level and ability, so when he is telling you that you are good at something you listen, but he is also going to tell you if you are bad at something and you want to improve that,” Case said of his dad. “I think his best thing is he has been very transparent with me. He’ll tell me, this is what you need to get better on, or hey, you are getting in your own way, you are good enough to do this. So you definitely have to listen to that.”
Cochran survived Friday’s cut at the GolfBC Championship and will get to play the weekend. So did Dru Love, whose father Davis won 21 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship.
Dru Love failed to Monday qualify for the GolfBC Championship, but eventually drew a spot in the field via his conditional status from Mackenzie Tour qualifying school. He is right where his dad thinks he should be. There has been criticism in some quarters for the PGA Tour exemptions that have come Dru’s way. Davis Love went on record earlier this year that he wanted his son to earn his way to the PGA Tour.
“I wish he wouldn’t take exemptions and go play somewhere else,” Davis Love said. “He needs to be playing his way up through Q school. There’s nothing wrong with that. Thousands of kids do that.”
After all, a father knows best.