Mark Mease didn’t let the fact that Michael Lucas wasn’t his biological dad prevent him from calling him his father. And he credits Lucas for life lessons that extend well beyond the golf course, highlighting what can also be a special relationship between a PGA Professional and a student. Even when related.
Lucas was Mease’s grandfather, but Mease called him dad “because he raised me,” Mease said. “My biological father was in the hospital for schizophrenia when I was growing up.”
And when Lucas died Sept. 16 at the age of 75, Mease wanted to make sure the world knew more about Lucas’s lasting impact.
Lucas, a head professional at a number of golf clubs, most recently at the now-closed Marsh Harbour at Myrtle Beach, helped raise Mease from when he was 4 months old.
From that point on, Lucas taught Mease both life lessons and golf lessons. Sometimes the two mixed, other times they took the form of poetry -- one of Lucas’ favorite hobbies.
“He just taught me to never give up,” Mease said. “That was the main thing, just don’t give up. Keep trying and trying until you get it done.
“I remember being stuck in the sand trap for hours and hours on end because he wanted to make sure I got the right swing down while growing up.”
Possibly Lucas’ biggest impact came while Mease was at Paris Island for Marine boot camp. Lucas would send Mease letters and poems and Mease credited those for giving him the motivation to get through the tough times.
Mease kept everything that Lucas sent and recently came across a poem whose final lines brought a strong flood of emotions.
“When he passed away, I knew there was so much more to learn from him,” Mease said. “Every visit with him was him teaching me something new or a try-it-this-way kind of thing.”
That brought an end to a life that was filled with lessons, especially on the golf course. His father, Michael Lucas Sr., had been a professional golfer, and the junior Lucas soon adopted the game and was captain of the Furman University golf team in 1965.
After graduation, Lucas went on to be a professional golfer, and also became a PGA Professional.
However, a stroke in 2010 left Lucas paralyzed on the left side of his body and confined him to a wheelchair. At the time, Mease was serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Marines.
“I just remember talking to him one weekend and he didn’t sound normal but I didn’t know what was going on,” Mease said. “The next thing I know, I get an American Red Cross message saying he had a stroke.”
Though Lucas wasn’t physically able to play golf the final few years of his life, it did not diminish his love of the game.
In fact, at a ceremony after Lucas’ death, the Richard Campbell Veterans Nursing Home announced it would install a putting green and name it after Lucas.
“He carried the game of golf everywhere he went,” Mease said. “It didn’t matter who he saw, it was always the topic.”
Mease said that a brick at the World Golf Village Memorial Park in St. Augustine, Fla., would be dedicated in Lucas’ honor some time next month.
Although Lucas isn’t around to teach Mease any new life lessons, Mease said he was living every day to try and live up to Lucas’ lessons.
Plus, Mease’s 3-year-old son, Jayden, allows him to pass on Lucas’ lessons to the next generation.
“I’m hoping to instill in him the discipline and motivation as far as setting your mind to something and getting it done,” Mease said. “Just not giving up.”