Streelman's family ties run deep at Ridgewood
August 22, 2018
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Kevin Streelman stopped by his parents' childhood homes about 15 minutes away from Ridgewood on Monday. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Kevin Streelman made the 15-minute drive from Ridgewood Country Club, where he’s playing in THE NORTHERN TRUST this week, to Glen Rock, New Jersey, on Monday.
He stopped by the two houses, located about a mile apart, that his parents, Dennis and Mary Lou, grew up in. He Face-timed the childhood sweethearts, back home in North Carolina where his father is nursing a bum hip, so they could feel like they were there, too.
“They both got emotional about it,” Streelman says. “My dad actually built the home with my grandfather. He used to hold the light for him at night while he was putting it together.
“So to actually see it still in great shape … was pretty cool, I think, for both my parents.”
He stopped by the grave of his paternal grandparents, Albert and Margaret, in George Washington Memorial Park, too. The cemetery, which is also the final resting place of Luther Vandross and Yankees catcher Elston Howard, is located to the right of Ridgewood’s 10th hole (as it will play this week for the tournament).
“I stopped by there yesterday and cleaned up the grave and left some flowers for them and just kind of told them some stories,” Streelman says. He tweeted a picture of the marker after he left.
So it’s easy to see why Ridgewood is Streelman’s favorite in what he calls the “great courses” in THE NORTHERN TRUST rotation. His family roots run deep here. He has uncles and aunts and cousins who still live nearby.
“A lot of memories were made here,” Streelman says.
Streelman’s parents first met when they were in kindergarten and eventually wed at 20. They’ve been married 54 years.
“My grandmother had found a Valentine my dad gave (my mom) when there were, like, second grade that she had held onto,” Streelman says. “So, they are lifelong sweethearts.”
About three years after Dennis and Mary Lou were married, parents to one son with another child on the way, he was drafted. He was one of 12 young men from Glen Rock, a small borough north of Newark, sent to fight in the Vietnam War.
Only two survived. Dennis was one of them. Streelman stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown Glen Rock on Monday.
“There’s a plaque with a bunch of flags around it and a really nice monument for the boys, basically, his best friends from high school, who all went together over there,” Streelman says.
“They actually built a dedicated street, Streelman Way, to my Dad that's still there. I took a picture of it, sent it to my dad. … And they planted trees for all those who didn't (come back).”
Streelman marvels at what life must have been like for his parents, one in Southeast Asia, the other, worried, at home and comforting her friends who lost their loved ones.
“So there's my mom who had just had my brother and was pregnant with my sister at about 23 and Dad gets sent, the draft, to go to Vietnam,” Streelman says.
“And she's home with all these women and watching their friends -- 10 of the 12 of them come back passed away. And so to sit there with a baby on the way and one-year-old and what that must've been like for a 23-year-old lady in that, in the late 1960s.
“It's just incredible to think about it. They've been through a lot. They're great people.”
Streelman, who was born shortly after his parents moved to the Chicago area, wishes they could be with him in New Jersey this week as was the case the three previous times THE NORTHERN TRUST was played at Ridgewood.
But a freak accident at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier has Streelman’s father sidelined with a hip injury. He was chasing after his 2-year-old grandson, Rhett, who was about to drop a bowling ball on his foot.
“It kind of tore some tendons from the bone there and right above his quad on his hip,” Streelman says. “… It was the first hour they'd arrived at The Greenbrier and we were going to have a fun week there together and they were going to come up to Chicago and see some friends with us at the John Deere (Classic).
“It just literally the first hour they're there. He does this and lands in the emergency room. It was a real shame.”
But Streelman, who tied for fourth and third in his first two starts at Ridgewood, will still have plenty of support this week at Ridgewood. Not only will family will be in his gallery, there are those friends from his days at Duke who work on across the Hudson River in the Financial District.
“I went into the city last night, saw as few of my Wall Street buddies,” Streelman says.
He isn’t playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Instead, he plans to tee it up at Arcola Country Club in nearby Paramus with some of those Blue Devil friends.
And on Thursday, the man ranked a solid 67th in the FedExCup will get back to work, trying to win a golf tournament. The trip down memory lane has been fun, though.
“It's a special week for sure,” Streelman says.