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Scanning the Par Codes

Whitney Code knows all about the perfect weekend. Her visor and putter give her away.

"My ideal weekend? It involves a round of golf," says the smiling 12-year-old.

Saturday morning cartoons? Leave them to the kids interested only in bettering their grip on the remote control. Tee times and thoughts of birdies? Those are strictly for the golfers.

Whitney is a golfer. So is everyone else in her family.

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Fittingly, the story of the Code family originates on a golf course. Brian Code met his future wife, Karen, while playing a round of golf at Tampa's Pebble Creek course in 1969. Marriage followed some years later, as did the birth of a son and two daughters. A love for golf is an inherent trait in their children.

At last month's Greater Tampa Junior Golf Association Tournament of Champions, the three Code children won their individual age-group championships. Rarely will two of the three win at the same tournament. So naturally, the sweep came as a surprise in a field made up of winners from the GTJGA's monthly tournaments.

Jordan, 14, won his age group's championship with a two-round total of 148. Whitney, 12, shot a 45 on the opening round at the Sun City Center course and had a 31 on an executive course the following day. Mallory, 9, played nine holes each day, winning with 82.

The three children, who are taught at home by their mother, are playing in junior tournaments throughout the summer. Whitney has qualified for the field of the national United Commercial Travelers Junior Golf Tournament in August. The chances of another family sweep aren't too high, though.

"Usually we get one winner and a third place and then the third has a horrible day," Brian Code says. "Having three first-place finishes . . . well that just doesn't happen."

That's golf.

The sawed-off 5-wood does not hang over the chimney in the Codes' Carrollwood home. What could be considered a family heirloom probably ended up in a garbage can, Brian Code says.

"(The club) was about 15 inches high," Mallory says.

Using that club, the Code children were introduced to the game of golf. When he was 3, Jordan started trailing his father _ who owns a 10 handicap _ on golf courses. The club stayed with Jordan for every shot _ chipping, putting and whatever else a golfing 3-year-old is capable of doing.

The club passed to Whitney and then to Mallory as they started joining their father on rounds. Now each child owns a complete set of clubs, making the family foursome's golf cart the most recognizable on almost any course.

With Jordan a few months away from driving on his own, the Codes still pack themselves and their clubs into a single cart whenever they choose to ride. Three cram into the cart with one standing wherever there might be room.

"(Riding) has gotten absurd in the last few months because Jordan has grown so much," Brian Code says. "We look like the Beverly Hillbillies on the way to the range."

The Code children are at home on the range.

Jordan, who is considered the most serious golfer of the brood by his sisters, spends almost every day on the course. He regularly tees off with older golfers, who welcome the younger partner. If Jordan's not at Avila Golf & Country Club, where the family has a membership, he is out with friends at other courses. Or he's practicing somewhere.

"I'll play twice a week. I drill a lot," says Jordan, who has a 4 handicap. "I want to practice the correct way with a lot of chipping and putting. I just don't beat balls."

Under the tutelage of Avila pro Chris Gaughan, the three children have furthered their appreciation for the game. In the earlier stages of their development as golfers, some candy was enough to land them on a putting green. The Codes try to avoid sweets in their home. But there is always some candy at the end of a good putt.

"We have some putting or chipping contests for candy," Mallory says. "I'll do that when I play with my sister, too, to make it fun."

Brian Code thinks there are other ways in which his children have come to love golf.

"If parents really want their children to enjoy golf, they need to let the kids set their own schedules," he says. "It's not that hard a game that kids need to be pushed for hours at a time by their parents."

Jordan, Whitney and Mallory each participate in other sports. They simply enjoy golf most. And they say it's always fun, a way to spend time as a family, with no pressures attached.

"My dad got us playing only to see if we liked it," Mallory says. "We didn't have to like it.

"But we love it."

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