The game of golf has become a tradition unlike any other for the Boddies, of Ocoee.
It’s another hot day at the driving range, as the Boddie family takes in some practice time.
The sea of green grass in front of them at the the McCord Golf Academy at Orange Lake Resort is broken up by sand traps here and there, and it stretches to the tree line off in the distance.
But none of them really pay the weather any mind — it’s just nice to be out playing the game they love alongside family.
For the Boddies, that’s what this game is all about — family. And that family — consisting of Chris and Lori Boddie, and their three children, Kristopher (21), Alyvia (12) and Samuel (14) — has been impressively good at golf over the years.
“When they were younger — as they were growing up — you’d scratch your head some days and say, ‘Is this ever going to happen for them?’ And then they’d have bad days … but then, all of a sudden, it’s like they’ve jumped to another level,” Chris said. “They started off in group lessons years ago, and then the last year they’ve worked at McCord with Mike (McMillan) and we’ve seen the level of play, competitiveness and the mental game jump to another level.
“Just watching them practice today, I’m like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?,’” he said. “To watch that happen for your kids … it makes you feel good.”
As Chris plays the game for the fun of it, and while Lori plays the role of supermom (providing all the prep work for her kids), Kris, Alyvia and Samuel play golf on the competitive level.
And though they play in their own respective age groups, Alyvia and Samuel practice side by side, which is actually made better by the fact that they are siblings enjoying the same sport.
“We’re pushing each other to be better,” Samuel said.
There’s evidence in what Samuel said, as recently the two have experienced highs in their young, budding careers.
Just last month, Samuel shot his lowest tournament round at Forest Lake Golf Club during a Premier Junior Golf tournament, where he shot a 77.
“For me I had to focus on keeping the ball straight and make sure I keep my up-and-down game pretty good,” Samuel said. “It is my home course in Ocoee.”
On the flip side, Alyvia pulled off something in a recent tournament that she had never done before: record a birdie in tournament play. And she didn’t just get one birdie — she got two.
Alyvia recalls the moment with pristine detail, because it helped lead her to a runner-up finish.
“I think about what’s around, ‘Is there a bunker? Is there trees? Is there water?,’” Alyvia said. “And there was one of the (holes) I got a birdie on — I hit it right into the fairway, and after I got my three-wood and hit it onto the green, and then I put it in.”
A FAMILY’S GOLF LEGACY
The game of golf started for the Boddie family during Chris’ time at Ohio State University back in the late 1980s.
During that time Chris played for the Buckeyes football team as a fullback, but a friendship he sparked with Gary Nicklaus — the son of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus — is what drove him to give the game a shot.
Chris would travel with Gary, watching him play in collegiate tournaments, before buying his own starter set of clubs one day to try golf out for himself.
Everything Chris did to learn how to play the game largely came from simply going out to the links and playing — something that really picked up following an injury that cut his football career short during his junior year.
“Once you’re an athlete, you have a competitive spirit and it never leaves you, so I had to find something to do,” he said. “I did body building, lifting weights and then I decide, ‘Hey, golf — it’s this tiny white ball that you want to beat.’ It just takes one shot to keep you coming back.”
Over the years that passion stayed with Chris, who passed it down to his kids — all of whom picked it up and ran with it.
“Just watching them practice today, I’m like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?.’ To watch that happen for your kids … it makes you feel good.”
— Chris Boddie
In Kristopher’s case — with him being the oldest of the trio — it has led him to a successful golf career at St. Xavier University in Chicago, where he will start his senior year in the fall. And though he has been playing since he was a kid, it’s been these last four years when he has been really pushed to up his game.
“It’s definitely a huge change as far as competition levels … you’re playing with kids that this is their life — a lot of them banked on being good golfers to get to college,” Kristopher said. “The dedication that you have to put into the sport is a lot more, because it’s like they are paying you to go there in a way … because you’re on scholarship.”
Along with Kristopher’s growth through the years, Alyvia and Samuel have also gotten the opportunity to truly develop and work the game the way they see fit.
Under the watchful eye of their dad and the coaching staff at McCord Golf Academy, the hope one day is to play in the PGA or LPGA. There’s no real slowing down, both Samuel and Alyvia said.
“I’m trying to take it to the professional level,” Samuel said.
“The thing is with golf — it’s a game you could play for the rest of your life,” Alyvia said.