COLUMBIA, S.C — . Eddie Hargett began his quest for a berth in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open with a couple of quick birdies at Florence Country Club before stumbling with a double-bogey on the fifth hole. “Mad” is too mild to describe his attitude at that moment.
His caddie came to the rescue.
“Hey, Dad, chill out. That’s golf,” Cole Hargett said and slowed the golfer’s pace.
Eddie Hargett took his son’s advice, cooled off, qualified for the national tournament and the family enjoyed one of those experiences of a lifetime at the Senior Open in Michigan.
Eddie Hargett attempted to qualify again for the big show in 2013, but he fell short, and he didn’t have his trusty caddie. Cole had other business, competing in a junior tournament.
“I told him, ‘We have to do a better job with our schedules (in 2014),” Eddie Hargett said and laughed.
Their schedules mesh this week in a different way. They will be at the same tournament, the Columbia City Golf Championship that opens today at Spring Valley Country Club, and both will be competing — Eddie defending his championship and Cole in the posse.
“(Both playing) will be an interesting dynamic,” Eddie said of the Hargetts joining other father-son combos — Steve and Chase Liebler and Gus and Jay Sylvan, to name a couple — who have played in the same city tournament.
“We’ve played in some club events, but this will be the first time in a tournament like this,” said Cole, 15 and a rising sophomore who plays at Blythewood High. “I’m going to try, but it’s going to take more than the scores I have been shooting.”
Eddie does not know what to expect from his game. He underwent knee surgery in February, has played far less than usual and says he is “probably about 95 percent” going into the championship.
“It’s like cramming for an exam,” he said. “You hope you’re ready to compete.”
No matter how he fares, the tournament will offer special memories for both. Cole has his dad’s love for the game and they work on their games together at every opportunity.
“I don’t have to wonder about where they are,” said wife/mom Kimberly, who calls herserlf more of a tennis player. “They’re going to be across the street (at Columbia Country Club) every afternoon until dark. Eddie is so competitive and Cole is enjoying the game. He wants to win, too.”
The pair got into the game differently. Eddie, 52, did not start playing seriously until age 28. His buddies spent weekends on the course, and he could stay home or join them. Cole tried other sports, but his small stature led him to golf and, of course, he said, “Dad’s influence grew on me.”
Cole said he can’t outdrive his father yet, “but I’m getting closer.” And instead of focusing on the long ball, he calls his strengths “approach shots and the short game.”
“I’m pleased with how Cole’s game has developed, and I can see him starting to turn the corner,” Eddie said. “He’s not big and will improve as he grows physically. Everyone develops differently. The big kids that hit the ball longer can get sloppy. Smaller guys like Cole work on short shots and score another way.”
In winning the city title a year ago at his home course, Columbia Country Club, Hargett “felt a sense of accomplishment. That (championship) is always something you want on your resume’. There’s the local pride, beating the guys you play with all the time.
“When you stick that peg in the ground on the first tee, it’s all business.”