Originally created 05/12/02

Blaylock balances life of golf, motherhood



Caroline Blaylock has an afternoon tee time, but she's not sleeping in.

At 6 a.m., she's startled by the cries of her 8-month-old son - he's teething now and a bit fussy. A few hours later, she heads to the course, where a burgeoning waistline and persistent fatigue are reminders that another child is growing inside her.

"I'm not complaining about it," said Blaylock, struggling to make her place on the LPGA Tour while balancing the demands of family life this Mother's Day weekend. "It's definitely worth it. You just need a little better time management."

For the second year in a row, the 29-year-old Georgia native is out on tour in the midst of a pregnancy. Last season, she managed to take part in eight events before her first child, Jackson, was born on Sept. 4.

Just four weeks later, Blaylock was back on the course, plotting her return to the tour. Then, before the new season even began, she and husband Eric received surprising news: another boy was on the way.

"We definitely weren't planning on this one," she said, managing to chuckle. "It will be tough the first couple of years. They'll be pretty demanding."

Blaylock, who is 5 1/2 months pregnant, is playing this weekend in the Electrolux USA Championship in Franklin, Tenn. After rounds of 75-71-70-216, she is 11 shots off the lead entering today's final round.

Blaylock is also entered in the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship, which begins Thursday at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club in Edgefield County, S.C.

Blaylock's condition is barely noticeable. Only after coming off the course did she reveal that her khaki shorts are a couple of sizes larger than normal.

The changes in her body are slow but steadfast. Blaylock has started to tire more easily, and she knows that it won't be long before she has to start altering her swing - especially since she hopes to play into her seventh month.

"The later you get in pregnancy, your center of gravity drops and you kind of have to change your swing a little bit at a time," Blaylock said. "You use a lot of abdominal muscles, big muscle groups in your golf swing. When you're pregnant, you have less and less use of your abdominal muscles. You may not hit as far - at least an iron length, 10 to 15 yards, off the driver. It may not seem like a lot, but over a period of holes it can add up."

There are advantages, however.

"She believes the lower center of gravity makes her a better putter," said Eric Blaylock, a former college golf coach who now works in private business in Cartersville, the couple's north Georgia home. "It's funny, but she has become a better putter."

Blaylock's condition is not unique in this sport. Caroline McMillan gave birth to her second child, a boy, on April 29, while Cindy Figg-Currier is expecting her second in mid-July. In all, there are 30 mothers with 48 kids on the LPGA Tour.

The tour makes things easier for moms by providing day care at every tournament stop, with two full-time workers and volunteers to help out.

"That's a fantastic luxury for us to have," she said.

Still, the demands of motherhood and work aren't easy.

Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who won last week's event in suburban Atlanta, is playing a reduced schedule because of her two daughters, who are 12 and 8.

"It gets tougher and tougher," she said. "My kids are into everything. It's tough to miss out on that, so I have to pick and choose what I do."

Pregnancy does take a toll on the art of swinging a club.

When Blaylock returned after Jackson's birth, her large belly was gone but her swing had flattened out, requiring a couple of months to sort through. Now, she's going through the whole process again, hoping that she'll be fortunate enough to gain only 23 pounds or so, as she did with Jackson.

Blaylock, who has never finished higher than 10th during her five years on the tour, isn't sure how much longer she can balance a career with her growing family.

"I'd rather had a normal life with them rather than being out here, especially as they get older," she said. "Maybe when they're off during the summer, you can bring them with you. But during the school year, you would like them to have a normal schedule. I need to be there."