David Butler started playing in the Father-Son in 2012 and his son, Noah, 12 years old at the time, was a 33 handicap just taking up the game.
It was a chance for the two to spend time together and that remains the case, but Noah entered the 2018 tournament with an index of 2.5 and David, who turned 60 the day before play began, was a 2.9.
Based on age, David had the opportunity to move up a set of tees, but this father and son duo set their sights on winning the National Division (gross score) and, along with it, entry into the European Father-Son Championship.
They shot a 61 on opening day and a 71 during alternate shot, overcoming a late-round double bogey that David thought may have cost them victory. Their total of 132 was good for 2 shot win they won’t forget.
“It was emotional, especially since I thought I’d blown it on 16 (with a ball hit in the water that led to double bogey),” David said. “I thought I’d cost us the tournament when I hit that 3 wood. I was emotional, my wife was emotional; we had been playing in this since he was young. It was a very exciting day for us.”
Things got even better for the Butlers with the invite to the European Father-Son, which was played October 22-27 at Montecastillo Golf Resort in Andalucia, Spain. The course was spectacular – it has hosted six Volvo Masters tournaments and counts Lee Westwood, Bernard Langer and Sergio Garcia among the players who have won there – and they stayed in a renovated 17th century castle.
“It was a trip of a lifetime,” David said. “It was one of the top weeks of my life. We played with teams from Ireland, England, Germany and Scotland, and we made friends. Everyone was so nice.”
The experience began when the Butlers arrived on-site, at which point the American flag was raised on the property. They gave a speech at a banquet, enjoyed a formal gala, and, of course, the golf.
During one of the practice rounds, tournament organizers pitted fathers against sons, even seating them on different sides at the post-round gathering (for the record, the sons won by 70 strokes, so we know who was doing the heavy lifting!).
When tournament play started, David and Noah more than held their own, finishing seventh (-5 under par) out of 32 teams.
Where they finished was a distant second on the Butler family leaderboard to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Noah, whose handicap is down to 0, will begin college in the fall, and David knows Father Time will limit the number of future chances they have to win the National Division during Family Golf Week, hence the emotion after their 2018 victory and the appreciation the European Father-Son.
They certainly savored the experience in Spain. But consider yourself warned, they will return to Myrtle Beach next summer in hopes of beating the odds and earning a return trip across the pond.