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Baby on Board!

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

July 5 2013, Katie Ann Robinson
For Nicole and Craig Castrale, nothing is more rewarding than finishing up a round of golf and getting to see  their precious daughter’s smiling face.

“No matter how your day is, good or bad, you go home to her smiling face and nothing else matters,” said Nicole of her 19-month-old daughter, Eleni. “She’s always happy. It’s very rare that she has a bad day. Just to be able to go back and see her is such a joy.”

The twosome has been a power couple on the road ever since they started out on the Futures Tour in 2002. It’s rare to see one without the other, as they claim they’ve only spent a mere 17 days apart since they married in 2005.

Nothing else seemed to matter, as long as they had each other.

Now with a baby on board as they travel to every U.S. event on the tournament schedule, they claim their lives seem to be even more complete than they originally thought.

“We always talk about how much we can’t imagine if our lives were without her,” said Nicole. “It’s great to be a parent and it’s better than everyone says it is. She’s so much fun, she’s just a blessing.”

Although the Castrale’s reside in Palm Desert, Calif., LPGA Tour life has them traveling nearly every week from February through November. It was never an afterthought for the Castrale’s to leave their daughter while they go to work. So instead Nicole’s mother, Patricia, travels with them to take care of Eleni.

“I think in a weird way this is normal to us,” said Castrale. “We don’t know what it’s like to be home every day, every month, every year. It is normal for us to be packing and traveling. Eleni will walk by all the suitcases a day or two before we go and she’ll say ‘go bye-bye?’ So, she knows that we have to go and we’re traveling on an airplane.”

During tournament week, the duo heads to the course in the morning and heads straight back to their hotel for family night in the afternoons.  Patricia and Eleni will visit the course during practice rounds and pro-ams, but the 19-month-old doesn’t quite have proper golf etiquette when it comes to the tournament rounds.

“She’s at the point where she’s getting more vocal,” said Nicole. “If she doesn’t see Craig and me, or like my mom will steer the stroller away, she’ll start screaming ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada.’ She just always wants to know where we are. ”

But no matter what, Eleni is always at the course to greet Nicole and Craig once they are done.

 “My mom will bring her to nine or 18 to see us when we’re done playing after our rounds,” said Nicole. “She’s always the first person we see when we finish.”

Surrounded by golf on a daily basis, it only makes sense that as Eleni begins to walk and talk that she knows and recognizes golf jargon.      

“She definitely knows how to say ‘golf’ and ‘ball’ and she watches it on TV,” said Nicole. “She saw Morgan (Pressel) on TV during Rochester and she kept pointing to the TV. Morgan and I are good friends and so she kept saying ‘Mo, Mo!’ So she definitely gets it.”

She’s even got her own set of golf clubs.

“Craig actually puts plastic golf balls and golf clubs in my bag when we travel,” said Nicole. “She sets up to it good, but then she does the one arm swing but she’s got a while to get her swing down.”

It won’t be long before baby Eleni will be hitting the links with her mom and dad. The Castrale’s just might be raising the 2033 Rolex Rookie of the Year.  

Topics: Player Feature, Castrale, Nicole

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