For Myra Baglos, golf is more than a passion, it’s a symbol of an unbreakable bond.
So, when she finally accomplished one of her biggest golf goals, making a hole in one, it’s no surprise her biggest supporters were there to witness it — one physically and one spiritually.
Balgos aced the No. 14, par-3 hole with a 7-iron at the Windy Harbor Golf Club in Mayport on Nov. 23, which happened to be her parents’ anniversary. Her mom, also an avid golfer, was with her on that special day. Her dad, who loved the game as well, had passed away in 2007, but Myra knew he was with her as well.
“Golf has been a way of bringing the family together,” Balgos said.
Balgos’ passion for golf began in earnest in 2000. Her family owns a time share in New Smyrna Beach where Balgos and her three sisters, including a twin, decided it might be fun to try out the local links.
“We were just swinging, not knowing how to hit,” Balgos said. “I got excited because my ball shanked, but I hit a shed.”
Balgos said she felt bad for the unhappy group playing behind them because of their slow play, but the passion for the sport was awakened. One of her sisters had connections to Deercreek Golf Club, so they took a course on the fundamentals of golf and spent more and more time at the range.
But as time passed, the foursome began to split up, as two of Balgos’ sisters married and moved away, and her other sister didn’t get to play often. So, Balgos decided it was time to get the parents involved.
As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts, she bought her parents golf attire and took them to the Palm Valley golf course to teach them what she knew.
And the passion for the game spread.
“My dad is such a perfectionist, he ended up taking lessons for a whole year before actually playing on a real course,” Balgos said.
But that training paid off. The first time Balgos played a round with her dad, he shot an 88.
Since then, whenever her sisters would come to town, there would be family gatherings for golf outings. The husbands and boyfriends of the sisters would play with Myra’s dad, while the sisters would play with their mom, and afterwards, they would all have dinner together.
“I can just remember my dad saying how much he appreciated the family bonding, and how we all got together because of golf,” Balgos said.
But as much as Balgos’ enjoyed the family golf outings, she was ready to take her game to another level. She became involved in what was then the Executive Women’s Golf Association, which put on monthly events and gave her the chance to playing more regularly, and competitively.
“That was a big impact on my game,” Balgos said. “You don’t feel intimidated. They invite all women golfers of all levels.”
The group eventually was taken over by the LPGA, becoming part of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association, and Balgos improved her competitive play, so much so she accomplished one of her other biggest goals: playing a tournament in California.
Balgos advanced through the local and regional qualifying tournaments of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association Championships and, in October, she ended up playing in the finals at the famed Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, California.
“That was one of my goals” she said. “I’d never played in California and wanted to play in California.”
The first round of the tournament started off rocky, with Balgos shooting a 95, but she said because of that, she was able to relax and feel less pressured on Day 2.
“I like to compete, it’s just fighting the nerves that I need to get better at,” Balgos said.
She seemed to conquer those nerves on the second day. Balgos ended up finishing second in her flight for low net and finished tied for third for her flight in low gross.
“I was very, very surprised, and my mom was with me and she was so excited and proud,” she said.
She thought of her dad, too, who wasn’t there to see it physically, but Balgos knew he was there.
“I always think, ‘thank you Dad,’ because I believe he had something to do with it, too,” she said.
And less than a month later, on that beautiful, breezy day in late November, Balgos was about to add perhaps her biggest golf accomplishment to date. As she lined up at the 14th hole, 188 yards away from her goal, she could see that dreadful water hazard that has doomed many a golf game.
“Anytime I have one of those shots, I usually don’t use one of my good balls expecting it to go in the water, so I used a ball I’d found on another hole,” Balgos said.
She felt good about her swing, watched as her ball escaped a watery grave and disappeared from view beyond a mound near the right bunker. She waited for her mom to make her shot, which ended up in the water, too close to an alligator to try and rescue, and eventually the twosome approached the hole, leaving Balgos disappointed. She saw a ball sitting next to the flag, and figured it wasn’t meant to be. But when she went up to the ball, she was excited to find it wasn’t hers. But the one in the cup was.
“I got my hole in one, so I can check that off my bucket list,” she said.
Balgos still has other goals for the sport. She wants to be able to drive it long, 200-plus yards maybe, and she would love to be able to play Augusta. But no matter what, she knows her family will be rooting her on and sharing her accomplishments, in some way or another.
“Every time I go out and play golf, I think of my dad and how he’s there with us,” Balgos said. “Especially if there’s a nice breeze, I just feel like his spirit is out here enjoying watching us play.”