Show-Me State Torch Run
Saturday’s sunny, sweltering morning on the A.L. Gustin Golf Course was weather that Ernie Wasmer and Jillyan Talmage weren’t fond of.
As the grandfather-granddaughter duo warmed up on the driving range before their golf round in the father-daughter division of the Show-Me State Games, the two retreated to the air-conditioned clubhouse for most of the hour before their 10:20 a.m. tee time. Even with a trophy up for grabs, it was hard to blame them. Temperatures were already creeping toward 90 degrees with heavy humidity.
“It’s going to be a hot one today, isn’t it?” Wasmer said as he entered the clubhouse. “We’d better cool off before we go.”
But as Wasmer lives through his seventies and Talmage recently ended her competitive golfing career, the time spent with one another now has a greater priority than awards and accolades. The two played Saturday in a competition they’ve entered for four years and in an activity they both have done countless times: playing a round together in the Show-Me State Games.
Wasmer is a veteran of the Games, competing as far back as the 1980s as a duo with his son, Tyler. But when Talmage got better and better, he brought Talmage along for the event instead. They have not looked back since.
“This is a special time. Golf is a great game, I can play ‘till I’m old and spend it with the people I love,” Wasmer said of playing with his family. “That’s why were here, it’s fun and it’s a great experience.”
The Lee’s Summit man and Harrisonville woman are both lifelong players and playing partners, with the former being a heavy influence in the latter’s journey to being one of Missouri’s best prep golfers.
Since Talmage was “6 or 7 years old” according to Wasmer, the duo has been practicing in some capacity whenever possible at courses in and around the Kansas City area. Most of the time, they’ll work on their game at Shamrock Hills Golf Club in Lee’s Summit, where Wasmer currently works and only a few minutes from Talmage’s home.
The countless hours on the links paid off. Talmage was a two-time state qualifier in girls’ golf for Harrisonville High School, ending her prep career last fall as one of the most decorated golfers in Wildcats history.
“I try to do everything I can to be a better golfer, and I think that’s he’s helped me a lot with that,” Talmage said of her grandfather’s help. “He’s been with me since a young age, and I’ve always really had a mindset for golf. We have a really good relationship.”
For years, a $5 bill has been traded back and forth between the two, with whoever shoots the most recent low round keeping the money until next time.
Wasmer doesn’t just slack off either, as he gives his granddaughter a good fight. Talmage said that he “is a little bit ahead” and currently holds the bill at the time of writing. But on the days where Talmage outshoots her grandfather, Wasmer said that he lets his competitiveness aside in favor of admiration for his granddaughter
“It’s the best day on the golf course, when (she) beats me,” Wasmer said. “The most important thing is giving these kids a legacy and enjoying the game. That’s really what it’s all about.”