Family life changes Hjorth for better
BY NEAL REID
For most of Maria Hjorth’s life, golf held the top priority among everything else.
That has changed in recent years, as the talented Swede started a family with her husband Shaun McBride, a caddie on the PGA Tour. The couple welcomed daughter Emily in 2009, and Hjorth was forced to shift her priorities.
That was far from a bad thing for the 14-year LPGA Tour pro.
“My life was golf for 30 years, so having a baby has helped me a lot to get a better perspective,” Hjorth said. “Having something else to think about and worry about has helped me, because I’m not out there grinding for hours on the putting green or the driving range. You can have great practice in less time and then have time for your family. You don’t get as annoyed if you have a bad round, because you can go see your daughter and your family. So, I think it’s really helped me.”
The perspective has been good for Hjorth, who has two wins in the last two seasons and has yet to miss a cut in 17 events in 2011.
Traveling with a baby is a challenge for any parent, but when your profession constantly takes you to different locales, hurdles can become magnified. Hjorth employs a nanny who helps with Emily both at home and on the road, and she also takes advantage of the Tour’s highly successful Smucker’s LPGA Child Development Center that is on Tour most weeks.
“She doesn’t travel with me every week I’m on Tour,” Hjorth said of Emily. “We’re lucky because she likes to be on airplanes. We just make sure we have more time at airports to make connections.
“It’s important to have someone else out there with me so she doesn’t have to spend all day in daycare and can sleep to when she wants in the morning if I have an early tee time. We just try to keep as much of a routine as possible, and I think that’s very important for her. If kids have a routine, I think they sleep better and are happier overall.”
Hjorth and McBride, who caddies for Bryce Molder, do some scheduling gymnastics to make sure they are not apart from each other for too long a stretch.
“He gets to set his own schedule in a way, and Bryce will let Shaun work for him when he can work,” Hjorth said. “Shaun does 18 to 20 events a year, and we fit it around my schedule as well to make sure we’re not away from each other for too long. It’s hard, but it’s usually just for a few weeks, and that works. We’re both happy with what we’re doing, and we meet in the middle when we have time together.”
Happiness is often a byproduct of a balanced life, and Hjorth has found that to be true firsthand. She’s hoping her contentment will continue to translate into wins on the golf course.
“Things are really good, and I’m looking forward to the last part of the year,” said Hjorth, who won the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala., in April. “Hopefully, I can pull off another win before the season is done. Everything feels in order, so I’m just going to have to be patient and be out there and be in contention. Hopefully, it will happen again one day.”