The “Stuck at Home With” series profiles players, caddies and staff in the women’s game who are making the most of an unprecedented break in tour life due to the coronavirus pandemic. New stories will be posted every Tuesday and Thursday.
Theo Kai Smith crawled for the first time last week.
Daddy Duane captured on video the moment eight-month-old Theo made his way across a colorful street map toward his mother, who was on the floor clutching a toy.
“Our baby’s a genius!” said Duane, who doubles as his wife’s caddie.
While the world is awash in uncertainty, these are the precious moments that keep us sane.
The LPGA’s Sarah Jane Smith came back from maternity leave in January with Theo and six pieces of luggage in tow. But before she even left for the new Gainbridge event in Boca Raton, Florida, she had worked herself into a tizzy while putting labels on Theo’s clothes for daycare. The mere thought of dropping him off was heart-stopping.
When Tuesday morning came, she told Theo that she wasn’t going to cry. But the moment she opened that door to the daycare room, tears dripped down. Theo turned six months old while he was in daycare in Boca Raton and made a footprint canvas to mark the occasion.
Smith, 35, so badly wanted to make the cut that week. She hit the ball poorly, chipped and putted lights out and missed the weekend by one stroke. The moment she opened that daycare door to pick up Theo, however, everything changed.
“I didn’t want it any less,” she said, “but it was just a whole new perspective.”
Smith missed her first three cuts of the year on the LPGA and hasn’t competed since the tour went on break for the coronavirus back in mid-February. The LPGA has since canceled events through early May, including the ANA Inspiration.
Normally those three missed cuts would’ve weighed on her mind. Instead, she’s busy soaking up this bonus time with Theo and Duane. Making use of the garage practice and gym setup Duane had put together at their Orlando, Florida, home for maternity leave.
Smith typically wakes up Theo at 6 a.m. for his first bottle. Morning playtime sails by, she said. She forces herself to do a 30-minute workout program. Recently gave the house a good dusting.
“I’ve been very much enjoying the puttering around,” she said, “the housewife-y jobs.”
The Smiths were deliberate about when they wanted to start a family. Sarah Jane wanted to make sure that there was enough in the bank account so that she didn’t feel the need to rush back to work. A share of fifth at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open earned her a $182,487 paycheck. En route to the airport that Sunday night, Duane looked at his wife and asked: “Want to have a baby?”
Theo was born on July 24, 2019.
The Smiths, who have known each other since they met as 11-year-old junior golfers back in Australia, are making the most of a second offseason. Finances aren’t an issue now. She raves about 3M, a sponsorship that started as a handshake agreement several years ago after a fortuitous pro-am pairing in Arkansas.
“I’m sure some companies will honor contracts, but some won’t be able to,” said Sarah Jane. “I think everybody has to be kind and understanding.”
Just last week the Smiths were thinking back to times on the Symetra Tour when they literally had nothing in the bank. Sarah Jane recalled one specific instance when Duane fell ill during an off-week, and she went around to several different stores to round up supplies. She’d never heard of overdraft charges until she got dinged a $20 fee for each transaction of cold tablets and Gatorade.
At least back then she had the chance to make money the next week.
“We’ve been in those situations,” Sarah Jane said. “But I can’t imagine it for girls that are just getting started.”