During typical years, Father’s Day with my dad starts at a driving range — him testing out his most recently regripped club, me hitting almost exclusively short irons or my single hybrid. (This is, most likely, the first time I’ve swung a club since last Father’s Day.)

Like any daughter worth her salt, I want my dad to spend Father’s Day doing what he loves — even if it means participating in something at which I’m admittedly subpar. So, every year we pick up our coffee, head to his favorite driving range, and I remind myself this is supposed to be fun.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not an option this Father’s Day. Restrictions are loosening across the U.S. and other countries, but being notoriously skeptical of … well, pretty much everything … my dad and I won’t be rushing out to hit balls.

This year isn’t the first when strange times have affected golfers. Previous outbreaks, wars, tragedies, and more have drastically changed what everyday lives look like, for regular golfers and people more important and more skilled than my dad and me. Dads of 2020: You’ll make it through there like the best of them. To give you some inspiration, here are a list of 10 golfers — and fathers — who made it through trying times and lived to play another round. 

Willie Park, Jr., and Andrew Kirkaldy: The winner and runner-up of the 1889 Open Championship, respectively, Park and Kirkaldy lived through the vastly underrated (at least in the U.S.) flu pandemic spanning 1889 and 1890. Willie Park, Jr., a Scotsman, was father to Dorothy Park, who would go on to become a skilled amateur player in her own right. For Andrew Kirkaldy, an Englishman and father of three, 1889 would be considered his best year as a professional golfer. 

More commonly known as the Russian influenza, this 19th-century pandemic is considered by many to be the first modern flu pandemic, thanks in large part to the expansion of travel options including high-speed steamers and railroads. By the end of the initial outbreak in 1890, the total death toll in the U.S. fell just under 13,000, according to the U.S. Census Office, out of about 1 million worldwide.

Charles “Chick” Evans: As an amateur, Charles “Chick” Evans won his only U.S. Open title in 1916, along with the Amateur title that same year. Plenty was happening to throw people off their games in 1916: The polio epidemic in the U.S. broke out, the world was smack dab in the middle of World War I, and the almost-finished Quebec Bridge collapsed for a second time — no one, not even the Canadians, was safe. 

World War I did a number on the professional golf world. The Open Championship was canceled in 1915, and the PGA Tour and U.S. Open were canceled in 1917 until the end of the war in 1918.

Evans had no children of his own, but thanks to the scholarship he founded in 1929, he supported thousands of young caddies in their quest for higher education. As far as I’m concerned, this gives him honorary dad status.

Jim Barnes: Also in 1916, Jim Barnes, an Englishman and father of two, took home the victory of the inaugural PGA Championship. He’s one of three native Britons to win three different modern major professional championships (the PGA Championship, the Open Championship and the U.S. Open). 

Walter Hagen: At the 1919 U.S. Open — the first held since 1916 due to World War I — Walter Hagen beat fellow American Mike Brady by a single stroke. At the time, Hagen’s son, Walter Jr., was still an infant. (The PGA Championship also returned in 1919, with Barnes returning to defend his title.)

In talking about the early 20th century, I’d be remiss to not mention the 1918 flu pandemic, more commonly known as the Spanish flu. Because the major tournaments had already been canceled due to World War I, this global outbreak had little to no effect on the pro golf schedule. I have no doubt, though, that many hobbyists and fathers were kept away from the green due to illness or fear of it — about one-third of the world’s population caught the virus, and nearly 675,000 died in the U.S.

Sam Snead and Bob Hamilton: Throughout World War II, golfers kept alive their love of the game while remembering that there are, in fact, things more important than golf. Many British courses continued to operate and allow play throughout the war, albeit with modified rules

At the Richmond Golf Club in London, for example, temporary rules asked players to pick up any bomb or shrapnel splinters they found on the course. During competitions, these rules also allowed players to take shelter during gunfire or while bombs were falling, without fear of penalty. If an explosion affected a player’s stroke, they could play another ball, at the price of a one-stroke penalty. (After all, the new rules could only forgive so much.)

Most of the major tournaments were canceled at one point or another due to the war. Here’s a brief look at how else wartime affected the majors:

  • 1940: The British Open and Amateur were discontinued for the duration of WWII. Golf courses all over the United Kingdom were converted to airfields or otherwise given over to anti-air and anti-invasion defenses. The 1940 PGA Championship went to Byron Nelson — widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time — who beat out fellow American and father of two Sam Snead.
  • 1942: The U.S. Open was discontinued for the duration of the war. A worldwide shortage of rubber, a vital military supply, created a shortage and huge price increases in golf balls. Snead managed to complete an entire four-day tournament playing one ball and went on to join the war effort, serving in the U.S. Navy 1942-1944. He returned to the pro circuit in 1946, winning six times that year. 
  • 1943: The PGA Championship and The Masters joined the list of cancellations due to the war.
  • 1944: The PGA expanded its tour to 22 events despite the absence of many of its star players due to military service. American father Bob Hamilton won that year’s PGA Championship. Today, his son Jim Hamilton carries on the name as a certified PGA professional and head coach of the University of Evansville men’s and women’s golf teams in Indiana

Robert Allenby: Let’s jump ahead to the 21st century. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, the PGA canceled two events that were supposed to be held in the U.S. At the 2001 Marconi Pennsylvania Classic, the first PGA event held after the attacks, Allenby, father of two, took home a somber win.

Jason Day and Dustin Johnson: Due to concerns related to the Zika virus outbreak, a number of golfers chose to skip the 2016 Rio Olympics — no small decision, as these were the first Olympic games to include golf since 1904. 

Those choosing to bow out included top-ranked players Jason Day, father of three, and Dustin Johnson, father of two. At the time, Johnson and his now-wife Paulina Gretzky had one son, but told ESPN they planned to have more — an important consideration, as the Zika virus has been shown to cause severe birth defects.

These famous golfing dads made it through times of disease, war, and tragedy to play another round and raise their kids — you will, too. And while my dad and I might not be heading out to the driving range this weekend, but you can be sure I’ve got my golf-themed Father’s Day card ready and waiting to be mailed. 

Kaitlin Schuler

Kaitlin is a contributing writer for Stick and Hack. Her dad is a lover of the game, so she's always owned a set of clubs—despite only occasionally making it out to a course. Kaitlin may not be a golf fanatic, but she loves writing, reporting, and spending hours searching for the answers to strange questions. (Got some odd questions related to golf or its history? Send a message her way!) kschuler@stickandhack.com