This week, USC golfer Patrick Rada will compete in the Players Amateur in Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island. Meanwhile, teammate Allen Koon’s summer golf schedule takes him to the Eastern Amateur in Portsmouth, Va.
Nothing extraordinary: two players, two different schedules. The logistical Rubik’s Cube is the one facing their parents — Patrick’s father, Ken, and Koon’s mother, Lynn — who since Nov. 30, 2007, happen to be husband and wife.
The Gamecocks know brother acts: Chapin’s George and Wesley Bryan will be teammates this fall, and Baker Elmore’s younger brother McCuen plays for rival Clemson. But Rada and Koon becoming sudden stepbrothers is unique for USC.
“It’s weird to think of (Allen and Lynn) as family,” Patrick Rada said. “I’m used to them being good friends.”
As for travel choices, this week is simple for Ken Rada, who is caddying for Patrick at Belfair. “Spending five hours with your son, on the golf course, there’s nothing better,” he said.
But other days, Ken and Lynn, both “golf parents” since their sons were preteens and S.C. Junior Golf Association regulars, might head in opposite directions to support their sons. And perhaps twice more this summer — at U.S. Amateur qualifying in Atlanta and at the S.C. Amateur, Aug. 7-10 — both players will be in the same event. That means parents fretting the idea of winners and losers.
“I think that’s tougher on the parents than on us,” Allen Koon said.
That took place regularly this past college season as Rada and Koon competed in practice for playing time. Neither made USC’s top five for the NCAA East Regional, but Rada played in the SEC Championship. What about next year?
“They both have the ability to play at an extremely high level,” USC coach Bill McDonald said of Koon, a senior this fall, and Rada, who will be a junior. “They’ve both been in and out of the lineup, but they’re the type kids you want in your lineup.”
And that’s just the golf part.
“This past year was ... I don’t know how to describe it,” Rada said. “I’d hoped my dad would try dating again at some point.”
But remarrying? Still, the four are working at the new relationships — though Koon, with a laugh, said Anderson (where Ken and Lynn live) is more “big city” than the Bamberg native is used to.
As for new family ties, “Having Patrick as a stepbrother hasn’t changed things a whole lot,” Koon said. “We’re good friends, but we’ve never been best friends; we don’t hang out all the time. (But) this has brought us closer.”
Flash back to the 2006 Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga., where Ken — whose wife of 28 years, Janet, had died of cancer two months before — was attending Patrick’s first college tournament. He sat with Lynn, divorced for 12 years, during a team gathering.
“They were at a table, talking about the loneliness,” USC director of golf Puggy Blackmon said, “and I made some goofy comment like, ‘You guys need to get together.’ ”
He laughed. “I knew they were dating after that, but it wasn’t until December (when Patrick was named SCGA player of the year) that I found out they’d gotten married.”
“The first thing (that attracted him to Lynn) was what a supportive mom she obviously was,” Ken Rada said. “Patrick still marks his golf balls with ‘MOM,’ so that caught my attention.”
The private ceremony took place at the Bamberg County Courthouse, with a reception in Columbia. Patrick, who was exceptionally close to Janet, admits to mixed emotions, but he ultimately gave the marriage his blessing.
“I’m happy for (Ken),” he said. “There have been some family changes, (and) obviously it’s been tough for all of us. But I think we’ve come out stronger.”
Rada has — on the golf course. His resume as player of the year included wins in the Carolinas Amateur, which he skipped this week for the Players Am, and the S.C. Four-Ball with Spartanburg’s Will Oldham. Last week, he reached the third round of the North & South Amateur before losing to Duke’s Andrew (son of Rudy) Giuliani, 1-up.
Koon drove to Pinehurst, N.C., to pull for his stepbrother, who this fall also will be his roommate. “It’s tough on an athlete to look at his peers playing when he’s not,” Ken Rada said. “I thought that was very supportive.”
As for Patrick, last week’s performance “gave me a lot of confidence. I hope I can get back to Pinehurst and play in the U.S. Amateur.”
It would simplify plans for Aug. 18-24 if Koon did, too.
Reach senior writer Bob Gillespie at (803) 771-8304.