put a ring on it

'I wish Dad could have met him, but he would have been really happy' - getting engaged during lockdown

Irish professional golfer Stephanie Meadow speaks to The42 after getting engaged to her boyfriend Kyle.

STEPHANIE MEADOW SPENT three hours trying to ring her mother to tell her she was engaged.

Stephanie Meadow 1 Meadow is still able to practice on her local golf course.

There was no answer. She encountered more communication problems when she Facetimed a cousin at home in Ireland to tell her the good news. But with only darkness showing up on the screen, all her relative could tell was that the golf pro was yelling out ‘surprise.’

She couldn’t see what all the excitement was in honour of.

They linked up again later that day, when phone reception was better, and the ring perched on her finger was much more visible.

“I knew it,” her cousin beamed to the Portrush native on hearing the news.

It was a Saturday afternoon in April when Meadow’s boyfriend Kyle brought her out to Sedona, an area that sits about an hour and-a-half outside their residence in Arizona. They had their gorgeous seven-month old golden retriever Dallas with them for company, as they walked through the trails.

“Before I knew it he was down on one knee so it was pretty sweet,” Meadow tells The42, taking up the story.

Kyle initially planned to pop the question after she finished up at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open earlier this year, but the interruption of a global-wide pandemic forced him to have a rethink.

“It’s very exciting,” says Meadow. “He thought coronavirus was going to be over in like a month and it’s seemed like it was never going to happen.

“He had it [the ring] and he just wanted to do it so yeah it was nice to give people some good news when everybody is pretty down in the dumps.

“I think he said he had all these things to plan and then as soon as he got down on one knee, I started bawling and he couldn’t get it out. I think it was just like one sentence.”

Meadow’s mother Louise is close by in Arizona. Just down the street from where her daughter and Kyle live in Phoenix. She’s been by Meadow’s side right throughout her American adventure, moving over to the States, along with her husband Robert, when their daughter was just 14.

Meadow was taking her first tentative steps towards becoming a professional golf player, as she attended a golf school in South Carolina that offered school work in the morning and golf training in the afternoon

It was, as Meadow points out, “a huge sacrifice” for them to make. It helped that they often came to America on holidays prior to the move, which surely made the transition a bit easier. And Louise has since found her fit in Phoenix.

But despite living in the same place, Meadow found it difficult to get hold of her mum to tell her she was getting hitched.

“It was funny because she helps out at this horse rescue place,” Meadow explains.

She only does it one day a week on a Saturday and we got engaged on a Saturday. She never has her phone with her so I was trying to call her for like three hours to tell her. Eventually she picked up and we kind of stayed in the driveway like 12 feet apart.”

Lockdown measures mean that they’ll have to postpone their engagement party for now. Their WhatsApp groups are abuzz with lovely messages, and the soon-to-be-wedded pair are happy to give loved ones some good news in a time of worldwide despair.

Their announcement also coincides with their dog’s recovery from spinal meningitis. Dallas is on his last dose of medication at the moment, and is getting better all the time.

“He’s had a bit of a rough life,” says Meadow as she puts Dallas on the Zoom camera for a few seconds. “It was pretty scary.

“It was in his spine and also in his brain so like, Kyle called me when I was in Australia and he [Dallas] was just making circles, going to the left and then turning right.

Kyle tried to take him for a walk and he was just like freaked out. I think he lost eye sight because there was pressure on the optic nerve. And then his neck movement was very stuck.

“But as soon as he went on the medicine, within two days, he was definitely way better. He’s getting better. He’s very small for his age but he’ll get there in time.”

There’s just one person missing amidst all the celebrations. Meadow’s father Robert passed away in 2015 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, two years before she was introduced to Kyle through a friend who used to caddy for her.

Meadow is an only child but her wider family and friends have helped paint a portrait of Robert to give Kyle an insight into who he was. 

“Yeah, it’s hard,” says Meadow.

“I wish Dad would have been able to meet him, but he would have been really happy. His ashes are buried at home when we were at the [ISPS Handa World Invitational] event in Galgorm. We actually went to the grave and that sort of thing. We shared pictures and Mom shared stories and things like that.

It’s actually funny because the more golf people that he meets from Ireland, like my junior friends or ladies that ran the events, they always tell him stories about Dad. So he always says that he feels he has a good idea of what he was like. But obviously I wish he could have met him.”

The loss of her father was followed by some difficult times on the golf course for Meadow. There was a litany of missed cuts, a rapid slide down the world rankings and a serious back injury that consisted of a L5 pars stress fracture in her lower spine.

She represented Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished in a tie for 31st place. She lost her LGPA tour card during the 2016 season, but had received a sufficient amount of tournament invites as a result of her third-place finish at the US Open.

Meadow subsequently lost her tour card again and dropped down to the Symetra Tour, which is the LPGA’s equivalent of the Challenge Tour.

Meadow previously reflected on this challenging period of her career in a 2018 interview with The42. At the time, she said that she had no regrets about those wobbles she encountered on the professional stage, and those feelings still ring true in 2020.

“You have to just be humble about it,” she says, having since regained her LPGA card. She’s also started working with a new sports psychologist in the last year which has helped her rediscover the competitive spark she had as a youngster.

stephanie-meadow Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO Meadow after sinking a shot at Galgorm Castle Golf Club last year. Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO / Philip Magowan/INPHO

“It’s very easy in the mix of it to just kind of start hating it when things aren’t going right.

“Once you swallow your pride and go back down there and try to rebuild, it just gives you a lot of hope that you can still do it right.

It taught me a lot of things to kind of just be grateful for the bigger stage. It’s not that nice when you’re playing on the smaller tours. The bigger stage, you’re playing for a lot more money and you’ve got more opportunities and it’s nicer places.”

The LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan says they are hoping to return to competition in mid-July. That’s an extension on the previous June target, and while that could be pushed out again in the future, Meadow is working off the assumption that they will be back in the summer.

In preparation for that, her lockdown routine consists of doing her “workout stuff” in the morning and heading out to the play some golf later in the day. Many societies around the world have closed off access to golf courses during the Covid-19 crisis, but Meadow can still practice on the greens in Arizona.

There’s some time for watching Netflix as well, and taking Dallas out for a walk to help him get back to full health. At some point down the line, she can start organising her wedding too.

“At the beginning it was weird because we had no party or get together. But it’s nice, at least we’ve have something to be happy about.”

Immedis, a specialist division of the Taxback Group, has announced a new two-year Global Brand Ambassador partnership with professional golfer Stephanie Meadow.

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