My 2014 moment: How a millionaire pro rolls


(Editor's note: This is part of a series in which staff reveal their favorite or personal moments of 2014.)

How does life change when a lunch-bucket veteran who never won before suddenly becomes the hottest player on the planet?

As I left Golf Channel headquarters for Los Angeles for my first PGA Tour event of 2014, that’s what my editor wanted to read about from the Northern Trust Open. The assignment would lead to my favorite behind-the-scenes moment this year.

With the first three victories of his PGA Tour career coming almost all at once in this young season, Jimmy Walker rolled into the shadow of Tinseltown on fire. Fresh off a victory the Sunday before at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Walker marched into Riviera Country Club as a formidably new and growing force in the game at age 34. He was collecting trophies, world-ranking points and trophies like a budding superstar.

How was his life changing?

I asked Jimmy’s wife, Erin, and the answer I got wasn’t exactly what you would have expected. I watched a lot of Walker playing that week in Los Angeles, walking the course, where I met Erin for the first time. Her insight into Jimmy’s rocket ride to tour stardom was as enlightening as it was amusing.

What was life like?

With the Walkers enjoying a few big paydays already this new season, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear they were spoiling themselves at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, just up the road from Riviera Country Club. Instead, Erin told me their humble abode that week didn’t have enough water to allow Jimmy to take hot showers. They didn’t even have a simple sewer hookup. This rising star was stumbling out of his 43-foot Tiffin motor home in the mornings and hiking down a hill to take his showers in a public restroom. The man who had already won $3.6 million just eight starts into the new season was shaving beside strangers.

“Feels like we’re in college again,” Erin said.

With their two young children in tow, the Walkers were enjoying life in their motor home, even when a mix-up in their RV campground reservations left them stuck without the basic hookups that turn their traveling abode into a luxury vessel. Their boys, Mclain and Beckett, preferred grass and room to romp over a glitzy hotel lobby anyway, even without hot water.

Through Erin’s eyes, I got to glimpse the unglamorous but adventurous life of the hottest player on the planet. I got a look at how Jimmy Walker rolls. It was a nice, unexpected story to tell our readers.