COLUMBIA — Before this year’s Show-Me State Games, Pat Carl made a promise to her grandson.
“I told him I would do nothing to mess my back up.”
Carl and her 12-year-old grandson, Aidan Liu, participated in last year’s games, but a bad back prevented Carl from swinging the club the way she wanted.
“When we were playing those nine holes we were talking about coming back and playing better next year,” Carl said.
Sunday marked the pair’s chance at redemption. Carl and her grandson competed in the Mother/Son 12 and under division at A.L. Gustin Golf Course. The duo won the gold medal, surpassing last year’s silver. Despite improving on last year, Carl and Aidan's competitive nature leaves them wanting more.
“We didn’t really feel like we played well (today),” Carl said. “We won but we felt like we could have played better.”
Carl enjoys the time she gets to spend with her grandson, who is visiting for the week from Naperville, Ill.
“One thing I like to do with my grandsons is I like to have things that are special for us,” Carl said. “I want things that are special just for me and them. This is something different and special that just him and I can do.”
Aidan has been playing golf for six years but has only been able to get out on a course two times before this weekend. He also plays soccer and basketball, but golf is the game that he shares with his “Mema.”
“It’s fun to play sports and to play with her and have some competition,” Aidan said. “I get to spend time with her and I rarely get to do that because we are in different states.”
When they do get together, Carl says they are "very in-sync."
“We play really well together, we’re very supportive of each other,” Carl said. “He’s laid back when he plays with me”
On Sunday, some shots didn’t make it too far and some putts were missed, but the support never faltered.
“Focus on your shot. Take your time,” Carl said.
Aidan stepped up to the tee, took three practice swings, three deep breaths, lined up his club and sent the ball off the tee with a loud crack, then watched it cut through the air.
“Oh, it’s perfect,” Liu said, as he watched the ball drop to the ground.
“Oh, Aidan, that’s a great shot,” Carl said.
While not every shot was accurate or perfect, the pair made sure to keep each other laughing with sarcastic remarks about shots that didn’t turn out how they had hoped. Both aimed to improve on their performance from the year before, but Carl felt some added pressure.
“I want to play well in front of him,” Carl said. “He plays really well and he’s extremely strong so I really have to be on my toes to play half as well as he does. I really want to look good in his eyes.”