CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. -- When it comes to the participants at this week’s Del Webb Father/Son Challenge, the divide between the teammates is more than just generational.
With regard to their pedigrees as professional players, the chasm has proven insurmountable over the years, with no offspring likely to break a century-old trend anytime soon.
Whether it relates to a lack of fire in their bellies, a different philosophical mindset or a plain inability to measure up to their fathers in raw talent, it’s a truism that sons of famous golfers have hardly equaled the exploits of the Manning and Griffey clans in football and baseball.
Since 1981, exactly one biological son has won a stroke-play event on tour – Guy Boros, son of Hall-of-Famer Julius won in 1996. Since then, no offspring representing a blood relative has claimed a tour title. Each of the dads in this week's field has won at least one major championship.
Most the the sons would settle for a victory of any sort, really.
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo is playing in the Father/Son for the first time this week, paired with 19-year-old son Matthew, a college freshman in England who plays golf on a social basis. Plenty of other sons of prominent pros have tried and failed to measure up to their dad’s exploits, including many would-be tour players in this week’s field, like the sons of Ray Floyd and Larry Nelson, to name a couple.
“You know, exactly, historically, it's gone from the Nicklauses to the Players all the way down, hasn't it?” Nick Faldo said. “The sons have never followed on. I always said to him, you know, use the business card, the name.
“When they say Faldo, hopefully there's very few of us in the world, so hopefully they're go, ‘Ah, the golfer and not the downhill skier.”
The name can be like skiing downhill with a blindfold. At best it's a mixed blessing. Matthew played on the same high school team as Sam Torrance’s son. Everybody assumed they should have been beating the world.
“It’s a stigma,” Matthew said.
That might be a bit strong, since he has plenty of advantages, like access to equipment and top teachers. But the point is valid. Expectations are rough stuff.
“There's no freedom for them to go and play and be part of a big learning curve,” the elder Faldo said. “Now you're almost not given that freedom. Even a normal player. Can you imagine a surnamed player? Under even more scrutiny. No freedom for them. “
The elder Faldo came from humble means and had an inner drive that fueled his steady ascent up the pecking order. It’s probably difficult to expect that sort of commitment from a child reared in a privileged environment, he said.
“I was asked, ‘Did you have a normal childhood?’” Faldo said. “Of course I had a normal childhood. But the things I played with was a football and swing, and the woods, a couple of acres, across the road. That's where I played.
“That's funny you asked the same question about my little daughter (Emma) at 5, does she have a normal childhood? Yeah, she lives in a beautiful house and she's got a princess bedroom and she goes to school in a (Mercedes-Benz) Maybach with a fur coat wrapped around her.
‘Daddy, the sun is in my eyes.’ So I pull the curtains in the car for her. ‘Daddy, the sun is still in my eyes.’ Then I laugh, because I thought, that's normal. That's her normal childhood, isn't it?
“Nobody knows any difference. I thought it was quite funny. Wherever we grow up, you know, there's more to go out there and strive to create for yourself. Our joy is to spoil our families and let our families enjoy our success. So we have big houses and we fly around the world first class and stay at the best resorts, dah, dah, dah.
“Emma she likes the movies, and if she likes a movie she goes and sees the movie three, four or five times. I never went twice. I went to two movies in my life, Oliver and Lawrence of Arabia, and maybe another one. And that was a big treat to go to the cinema. It's a different world, isn't it? Different era. Totally different.”