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Golf Helps Fruge Family Bond Despite Challenges July 31, 2018 By Alyssa Haduck, USGA

Tom and Nancy Fruge after a round at Poipu Bay Golf Course on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. (Nancy Fruge photo)

Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)
Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)
Clay Merchent playing his tee shot at the 11th hole during the first round of stroke play of the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. on Monday, July 16, 2018. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

Nancy Fruge was never very interested in golf. Though her husband, Tom, often played, she hadn’t ever imagined herself on the course. Today, golf is an important part of Nancy’s life, and she owes it all to her husband for introducing her to the game.

“My husband has always played golf, but I just always took it as that was a guy thing. It just never crossed my mind,” she said. “He just asked me one day if I wanted to ride along, and I did, and he said, ‘After we go out, I’ll let you swing a few,’ and that’s all it took.”

As Nancy began taking lessons and joining other women on the course, she quickly realized that golf wasn’t just a man’s game. She treasures the female friendships that she’s fostered through golf.

“I play with a lot of women that give me a lot of tips and it’s just been great to have that community,” she said. “It allows me to meet women from all over, so it’s really nice that we have all of those opportunities to play.”

In 2017, Nancy found herself needing the support of her friends when Tom was diagnosed with ALS. Though the couple can no longer play together because of Tom’s physical condition, he has still found ways to enjoy the game with his wife.

“I took lessons,” Nancy said, “but he just always had a real good eye to see what I wasn’t doing or what I was doing. Even last month, he videotaped me on the driving range.”

When Nancy isn’t talking golf with Tom, she’s teaching it to her 8-year-old grandson, Grayson. Like Tom, Grayson faces challenges that prevent him from playing. His developmental disabilities and inability to speak make all tasks more difficult. Nancy, nonetheless, has used the game to bond with him, too.

“He’ll sit there and watch golf on the computer, and he calls me, ‘Nanna, golf,’” she said. “He sees me playing and he understands.”

Even if Grayson can’t properly hold his club, Nancy knows from experiences with her husband that the power of golf goes beyond physical mastery of the game. The motivation to share the game with all individuals – regardless of physical or mental ability, gender, or age – is one of the reasons why she is a USGA member.

“I just think the opportunity to introduce golf to people with disabilities – whether it’s like my grandson, people with autism, or handicapped people – I just think it’s great what the USGA has done,” she said. “Anything we can do to help anyone play is just great because golf is such a great sport and lets people know that you don’t have to be a pro, you can be out there and still have fun.”

Alyssa Haduck is an intern for the USGA Foundation. Email her at ahaduck@usga.org.