After Charles Howell has a bad day on the golf course, his mood always changes for the better when he sees his family.
Since his last Masters Tournament appearance in 2008, Howell and his wife, Heather, have become proud parents of 22-month-old daughter Ansley and 5-month-old son Charles “Chase” Howell IV. Those young smiling faces lessen the stress of golf, Howell said.
“It definitely makes it nice,” he said. “There are days when you don’t play well or haven’t finished well and you go home and it’s still fun. That’s a good thing. I’m focused more on leaving it on the golf course than taking it home with me.”
Howell, who turns 33 in June, is a different man than when he last played at Augusta National. First and foremost, he has become a veteran diaper-changer.
“That has to come quick,” he said.
Howell also is different in appearance. He’s listed as 155 pounds in the PGA Tour media guide, but that number is incorrect. With broad shoulders and a bulky chest, he weighs now 170 pounds, he said.
“I’ve made a concerted effort over the past few years to get bigger and stronger in ways to help my golf game,” said Howell, who has won twice on the PGA Tour. “I’m not a bodybuilder by any means, but I do enjoy my time in the gym. I want to stay healthy and I want to play the game for a long time healthy.”
Howell is looking to play the Masters for many years to come. When he sat out the past three years, he watched the tournament on TV, and it was a painful reminder of what he was missing.
“It’s hard to miss that tournament being from Augusta, but anyone who plays golf professionally doesn’t want to miss the Masters,” Howell said. “I appreciate getting back in there. Not that I ever took it for granted, but I’m just really excited to get back in there.”
Howell qualified for the Masters after finishing 25th on the money list last year with more than $2.5 million. He finished tied for sixth or better in five of his final 13 events in 2011.
Since October, he has been working with instructor Grant Waite to help his game peak for Masters Week. In seven Masters appearances, Howell has posted four top-30 finishes – a tie for 13th is his best – and missed the cut three times.
No matter how he plays this week, Howell will always have the support from his growing family.
“I don’t think about golf as much off the golf course,” he said. “I was never much of a guy to go out and have a life away from my family, so it hasn’t changed much. I love spending time around them. We have a lot of fun on the road.”