In this month's Florida's Natural Moms Blog, we look at Ashli Bunch. Bunch takes a moment when she's not carpooling or juggling golf with family time for a Quick Q&A with LPGA.com.
The Bunch Family
Tell us about your kids?
Eight years after starting a family, never would I have imagined how different life would become. Gracie, now 8 and Jake, 5 have transformed what once seemed like an ordinary world for me into a circus and within each day is a new show and I want a front row seat!
Gracie who is definitely my "strong-willed" child is truly one to write a book about. A spirited up and coming third grader excels in school, loves arts and crafts, soccer and basketball, but mostly craves a passion for animals. Can't visit the pet store enough where she convinced mommy last Easter that baby chicks were a "good deal" at $2.99 a piece. Sure enough out we walked with two!
Jake is entering kindergarten in he fall where his big sister looks forward to having him at her school and showing him the ropes! Those ropes would include persuading your teacher to let you eat with her in teacher planning for a week straight were there is an endless supply of cookies and other treats! Everyone likes to brag on their kids talents but Jake for sure is going to be an athlete to contend with! He is a terrific soccer player and is so passionate about his first season of tee ball. Wore his ball uniform each and every day to school his last two weeks! My kids are truly special and unique in their own two ways and each day is a new chapter for me with them and the ending is always unpredictable!
How do you juggle family time and golf time?
Juggling family time and golf time is a daily challenge. Balancing any career with a family is tough but the travels included with golf is a whole different level of toughness. My kids have both grown up traveling from the time they were 8 weeks old as we packed them up and they headed to my next LPGA event. Having them on the road with me was rewarding and I was truly blessed that the Tour provides a daycare staff that provides great care for our kids. Now that they are a bit older and both will be in school its a bit more challenging as they both are involved in their own sports and activities. Mom's taxi service gets cranked up pretty early these days with summer soccer camps, junior golf and tennis clinics, and swim team this summer.
Practice time for me is very limited as all my family activities come first and if I can get out a few hours a day that's great, if not I am okay with that too. My husband Mike who is a real estate developer is and has always been my biggest supporter. Whether it be carrying my golf bag, carrying by diaper bag over the years, or staying home with the kids while I travel he always wants what's best for me! My mom has also been a big help over the years with the kids and does her share of babysitting for sure.
Have you played much this season?
As for my golf schedule this year, its a bit sporadic. I traveled to Asia the first part of the year for a couple of events, and will mostly stick to a few Symetra events the rest of the year. When I get my kids settled and their schedules and sitters lined up then I may sneak out and play, but their plans definitely come first. When they both are in school this fall, I will have more time to practice and decide if I want to continue my playing career. Right now its is crazy tough as I feel like I may still have some great golf in the tank but my family comes first and I love cheering them on from their own sidelines just as much. I want to be involved as much as possible in my kids lives while they are young because they do grow up quick for sure!
I have truly enjoyed coaching their soccer teams this year and also am very involved in their schools as PTO president as well; I wear many hats but love each minute of it. My kids are definitely my full time job and golf is part time but that's how I like it! I realize its hard enough to compete at the highest level with 24 hours a day to devote to a playing career much less an hour here and there but I am enjoying the challenge!
Once the kids are out of school will they travel with you?
Not having great LPGA status makes it tough as my kids aren't able to travel much with me. Especially for Gracie who likes to watch me play now, wants to travel with me but having no child care on the mini tours keeps her at home. I want my card back for many reasons but another added incentive is that they can go out with me in the summers and be able to use our child care services on the LPGA tour.
What will be the hardest part about traveling now?
Its always a big guilt trip for me each time I pull out my driveway and headed out to the next event without the kids. I don't want to miss a single ballgame or even their practices/camps as those are truly heartwarming moments for me.
What advice have other moms on tour given you?
I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Nancy Lopez one time after just having Gracie and she told me the best advice she could give me as a mother pursing a career in golf was to still try and have a little "me" time left. Not sure where she found that time but I have been looking for "me" time for a while now and its nowhere in sight! I am fine with that as I get more enjoyment from family time than "me" time. I would love to have a den full of LPGA trophies but looks like that it may be some baseball and soccer trophies from Gracie and Jake for now. And that's fine too. My Dad who passed away four years ago after a long battle with adult muscular dystrophy has always been my inspiration. A high school basketball and baseball coach(and an excellent athlete in his time) who collected over a 1000 wins on the baseball field always made an important call when I returned home from a tournament. I never unpacked my suitcases before he wanted to know when I was going to get out and practice for my next event. He was my biggest fan tracking my golf career from day one and watching me play when he could as he was able to follow in an electric wheelchair/scooter on the golf course. Not a competitive round is played that I don't think of him and as I know he is still watching from the heavenly grandstands. I am not sure when I will put down my clubs for good and close the door on my playing career but for now I am enjoying the challenge and the juggling act. I have a supportive family and still have the drive to compete. My days start early and end late as a mother, a wife, and a professional golfer. I am truly blessed and loving every minute of the madness!