Most people know Scott Verplank as a professional golfer, founder of a local charity organization and Edmond Hall of Fame inductee. At home, though, the 50-year-old Edmond man is known simply as “dad.”
Scott and his wife, Kim, have four kids. Scottie, 22, attends Oklahoma City University. Hannah, 20, attends the University of Oklahoma. Daughters Emma, 17, and Heidi, 11, live at home and attend Oklahoma Christian School.
“I love them all to death,” he gushes. “They’re all different. Like any parent would say, my kids are awesome.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Scott has raised all his kids in Edmond. He moved to the Oklahoma City suburb almost 30 years ago after falling in love with Oklahoma while attending Oklahoma State University.
Scott’s experience as a dad is a little different than most. His career often puts him on the road away from home. Since turning pro in 1986, Scott has played on the Professional Golf Association Tour and the Champions Tour. He loves golf but admits traveling is the most difficult part of his career. He plays in about 20 tournaments a year, he said, each one taking him away for about a week.
A great lesson he’s been able to provide his kids over the years is perseverance. Throughout his career, he’s had five surgeries on his wrists and elbows but continued to compete. In addition to the surgeries, Scott suffers from Type I diabetes, a chronic condition formerly known as juvenile diabetes in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy. He was diagnosed at 9 years old. Scott speaks about the illness with experience, knowledge and an optimism that he’s acquired through the years.
“If you’re diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a child, say age 9 or 10, you automatically have to mature quite a bit right away. You have to deal with something that most other people don’t have to deal with,” he said. “You’re going to have to deal with different stuff, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you want to do. I wouldn’t wish juvenile diabetes on anyone, but you can have it and be fine.
Scott’s experience with diabetes in his own life planted a desire in him to give back to others diagnosed with Type 1. Understanding the financial burden placed on many families with a child suffering from the illness, he and his wife decided to start a charity.
The Scott & Kim Verplank Foundation provides college scholarships to students with Type 1 diabetes. His foundation is currently aiding 13 students who attend colleges all over the country, and the couple plans to award five more scholarships this spring. Applicants must play sports and do well in school to be eligible for the scholarship.
“I want these kids to end up being role models for other kids and model citizens,” he said. “I want them to be superstars in life.”
Scholarship recipients must report to the foundation every semester. Though not mandatory, some recipients even participate in intercollegiate athletics. Scott wants to set a good example for his own children and the kids who are receiving the scholarships and he does that by maintaining his own health.
“If you really want to take care of your diabetes, you need to eat right, take insulin and you have to exercise,” he said. “Exercise is not an option; it’s mandatory, along with eating right and taking insulin.”
When he’s in town, a typical day for Scott includes taking his youngest daughter to school in the morning, followed by a workout and then office work for the rest of the morning. If the Oklahoma weather cooperates, Scott ventures to the golf course for the afternoon to practice and play.
“When I was younger, my practice was more regimented, but now I’m more flexible,” Scott said. “With golf, like any sport, you have to work on your weaknesses, but you have to maintain your strengths too.”
Now that his kids are reaching adulthood, he’s more passionate than ever about being a good role model to them.
“I just want them all to grow up and be good citizens and good people. I try to do the best I can to set a good example for them,” he said. “There’s no formula for being a great parent other than you try to do what’s right and have your children’s best interests in your heart.”
[Editor’s Note: If you’d like to support the Scott & Kim Verplank Foundation, their fourth annual Verplank Foundation Invitational will be hosted June 28 and 29 at Oak Tree National in Edmond. Visit www.verplankfoundation.com/tournament for information.]