Sunday June 10, 2012
The family that golfs together
COVER STORY BY YVONNE LIM
Golf provides a common interest and understanding for the Green family members.
JUST to kill time on the weekends, Gary and Vivienne Green used to casually hit a few golf balls at the driving range with some friends, and brought along little Gavin, who was six at the time.
Little did they know that one junior golf club set, which they made Gavin buy with his own “ang-pow” money collected during that Chinese New Year and 12 years later, their two sons Gavin, 18, and Galven, 12, would supercede them in terms of skill and make a name for themselves in the world of golf.
Vivienne said that spending six hours a week on the course with the boys as they trained was time well spent because it helped galvanize the family into the tight unit they are today.
“I have to admit that I am not as passionate about golf as the rest of them. But I love spending time together as a family, and this is what they do, so I play as well,” she said.
She added that on a typical weekday, the family would have dinner together at home after she and her husband get back from work.
Two to three times a week, they would then head over to the golf course together where she and Gary would play a few rounds, while the boys trained with their coach.
“Playing golf allows us to spend time together and also gives us a common interest with which to bond,” she said.
When met at their home in Petaling Jaya, the family looked so at ease with each other that one is immediately able to tell that this was a family that is extremely close.
There was a tinge of sadness in their voices, however, when they spoke about Gavin’s imminent departure back to the US in a week.
Gavin is currently on a scholarship to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of New Mexico.
He is also playing golf for the state with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The lanky teenager, who has won more tournaments than he can remember, was back in Malaysia for two weeks to play in the Malaysia Amateur Open and 25th MPI-Saujana Amateur Championship, where he emerged with the top honours for both.
“When his older brother left for the US last year, it was hard on Galven, who missed him terribly,” said Vivienne.
“This trip back was unplanned, so we decided to surprise Galven. When he saw Gavin, he jumped on him and hugged him so hard. It was such a touching thing to see,” she added, while Galven blushed and shyly admitted that he looked up to his older brother as a role model.
Gavin said that his biggest challenge in the US was managing his hectic schedule on his own, as he had never been so far away from his family for such a long period of time before.
“Going over to study and play golf turned out to be the biggest, most memorable transition for me in both my personal life and in my golfing career, because I have had to learn to be on my own and away from my family.”
“There, my parents are not around to help me arrange my schedule, so I have to learn to manage classes, a full day of training and making sure I am on top of my studies everyday.
“There is no time for a girlfriend,” he added jokingly.
Vivienne described her eldest son as a determined young man, who has never had any problems distinguishing between work and play.
“The first thing he said to me when we talked over Skype during his first week of college was, ‘Mommy, I’ve never been so busy in my life!’
“But as much as we miss him while he is away, it was a good decision to send him to the US, because there he gets to play high-level golf and get a degree,” she said, adding that the family catches up with Gavin in the US via Skype almost every day.
Although young Galven took up golf because his brother played the game, he has since proven himself to be quite the child prodigy.
The pre-teen, whose handicap is one, was recorded in 2004 in the Malaysian Book of Records, as the “Youngest Golfer To Complete A Tournament” at the age of four, and has a substantial number of trophies among the many scattered around the house to show as his own - his first one being the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships top prize in 2006.
“At first I played because my whole family played. But I grew to really enjoy it and now I like feeling the power when I swing a club,” he said.
However, the Sri KDU student has had to put off playing golf for a year to concentrate on his coming exams “on mom’s orders”.
Vivienne said that she and her husband, who had to be away at work during the interview, are proud of their sons’ achievements, but most importantly, are glad to have something like golf to provide a common interest and understanding that brings the family together.
“As a sport, it has helped the two boys develop strength in their character because it requires a lot of thought and strategising, as well as learning to be disciplined and responsible.
“This is a wholesome and healthy way for them to grow up, and for us to grow as a family,” she said.