Cristian DiMarco following in his father's footsteps
March 15, 2021
By Connor Stange, PGATOUR.COM
- March 15, 2021
- Chris DiMarco's son, Cristian, did well at Mackenzie Tour Q-School.
The first time Cristian DiMarco beat his dad, Chris, he was 15 or 16 years old – and they each tell the story the exact same way.
“He was brutal,” Cristian said. “I was up on him with three to go and he let me know. He was trying to get in my head. He was trying to get me nervous.”
“I let him know on the 15th hole that we were close,” Chris said. The three-time winner on the PGA TOUR and current PGA TOUR Champions player added, “I used every tactic in the world to not let him beat me so that when he did, he knew that he beat me.”
The DiMarco competitive drive isn’t exclusive to the golf course, either – Cristian and Chris strive to beat each other at everything.
“Even when I beat him in ping pong for the first time,” Cristian said, “He’s like, ‘I’m not letting you win. If you’re going to beat me, you have to beat me.’”
That competitive edge helped Cristian, 25, finish runner-up earlier this month at the Mackenzie Tour Q-School event in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. As a result, Cristian earned exempt membership through the Tour’s reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the 2021 season.
Cristian was nine years old when he decided he wanted to pursue professional golf. He was attending the 2005 Masters, where his father finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in a playoff.
“It was the first time in my life that my emotions brought me to tears, based on happiness,” Cristian said. “It was something that I had never experienced before. When my dad made that par putt on No. 18 (to force a playoff), it was more than a goosebump moment. It was so overwhelming and that’s when I decided that this was something that I want to do.”
His dad encouraged him to take up other activities, too, like baseball and other sports. But Cristian continued to spend most of his time on the golf course.
“We didn’t really push him,” Chris said. “He didn’t need any pushing from me. He had more discipline and work ethic than I ever did – I can tell you that.”
From the time he started walking, Cristian has had a golf club in his hand. His dad had right-handed putters around the house, so naturally, Cristian would putt right-handed. But after his father gave him a club that could swing both ways, Cristian felt more comfortable swinging it left-handed.
“When I was younger, I was thinking – should I swing righty?” Cristian said. “Because I was cross-handed for a little bit when I was really young. But my dad said, ‘Your lefty action through (the ball) is just better.’ So I did that. And then my putting stroke was just better righty, so he didn’t want to mess with it.”
Each year during Cristian’s childhood, the two of them would team up in the Disney Father/Child tournament, winning the event eight times in a nine-year span.
“I took it seriously because I knew how much it meant to him,” Chris said. “I thought making a three-footer in a tournament was hard enough. But when your five-year old son is like ‘Come on, dad. We need this three-footer.’ – That’s some real pressure.”
To this day, the two of them play as much as they can when they get together, despite living in different regions – Chris lives in Colorado and Cristian lives in Florida. Chris joined PGA TOUR Champions in the fall of 2018 and has played in 45 events since then, including 24 tournaments during the 2019 season.
Chris said that during his transition from the PGA TOUR to the Champions Tour, Cristian would beat him roughly 90 percent of the time.
“Now we’re probably back down to 50/50,” Chris said. “I’m playing a lot better – that’s the main reason. He enjoys it. It’s great to compete and know that we have a mutual respect for each other.”
Cristian says when they’re playing money games with guys his age, they all bomb it past Chris. But his dad’s “bulldog mentality” shines through at the end of their rounds.
“He might complain about playing the back tees with us,” Cristian said. “But the last three holes, when however much money is on the line, he always seems to make birdies.”
Cristian, who’s striving to make the PGA TOUR like his father, added, “That’s the gene you need to have.”