Playing in his memory

As the new golf season begins, the twin standouts from Ingomar, Matt and Molly Hale, have a driving force guiding them.

The sophomore duo grew to love the game from their father, Robby, who was an avid golfer himself. With Matt taking up the sport in the fifth grade and Molly following after, what came from Robby’s passion are two of the county’s best golfers.
“He used to play all the time until our older sister started playing softball, then he stopped some because he was helping coach,” Matt said. “I started hitting a few balls in the back yard with a buddy, and I was hitting it alright. Daddy came out there and saw us hitting, and he asked if I thought about playing. I said sure, so we talked about it, and he got us a membership. I started getting pretty good, then Molly started playing.”
“I know at first, he didn’t think I’d be any good at it, and he would pick at me about it,” Molly added, laughing. “He’d always come out here and watch me play, help me and made me like it a lot. He always played, but he never played high school or anything like that, but I’m glad he liked it, because he passed that on to us.”
As time went on, Robby’s influence became more, as he helped coach the team at Ingomar. With their father at their side, Matt and Molly began to make their mark in the sport on the state level.
For this family of golfers, everything changed last July on a family vacation at Pickwick Lake. It was at this time that Matt and his mother, Lisa, witnessed Robby giving his life to help another, who was drowning on the lake.
“He asked if I wanted to go skiing, and we went down the river that afternoon and saw clouds coming,” Matt said of that afternoon. “The waves started getting a little bit bigger, and we were on our way back when we saw a boat away from some people in the water.”
The people trying to make their way back to their boat had on no life jackets, and with one man in particular close to going under, Robby sacrificed his life, going in with his life jacket, allowing the people to make it into the boat safely.
Due to high winds, the family was unable to make it back to Robby, who was found the following evening.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Hale family saw tremendous support from the Ingomar and Union County community. Robby worked as an insurance agent in New Albany and made many close friends in and out of work.
“They just showed us that they loved us so much. They were always with us, supporting us and praying with us to get us through it,” Matt said.
Added Molly, “It meant a lot, because we felt those prayers, and it was healing. The hurt will never go away, but to see the number of people who cared, showed just how many my daddy really knew.”
In the weeks after their father’s death, returning to golf was difficult at times, but the siblings are working harder than ever to play in the memory of their father.
“It was very hard and stressful at times. It still is, because if I’m hitting the ball bad, I’m wondering what I can do and I don’t have him to ask,” Molly said. “He would always tweak things and help me, and it’s hard to be here some days and easy on others.”
Matt finished second for the Falcons, hitting a 183 in last year’s state championships, and Molly finished four strokes behind the individual medalist, Miriam Parker of St. Andrew’s. Going into this season, Molly said the team is dedicating this season to Robby and will do all they can to be successful at state.
“This season, not only for me, but for the entire team, is totally for him. We’re going to play our best for our dad, the way he would want us to play,” she said. “I haven’t felt much has changed except for the drive and heart to go for it. I feel like we’ll have a good season, even though it will be hard.”
Ingomar will compete in its first match of the season next Tuesday, March 6.