WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Nick Leigh called it some of the most emotional 11 hours of his life. He and his wife, Nida, had just boarded a flight from Heathrow Airport in London to Las Vegas earlier this month. Their bags were packed. Their COVID-19 tests had come back negative. They were ready to go.
“When we knew we were coming and we were 11 hours away from seeing George, it was just absolutely wonderful,” said Nick, who hadn’t seen his son, George, a junior who plays golf at UNLV, in over two years because of the pandemic. “Step out the airport, and your son is waiting for you, it was lovely.”
Nida couldn’t hold back the tears. For two years she had talked to her son about once a week through WhatsApp.
“But it’s just not the same,” she said.
Added George: “I don’t really know how to put into words. … It was a little weird – I’ve just been so independent for the last two years, and I almost couldn’t believe it – but it was really nice. The week went by so fast.”
After a week reuniting with their son in Vegas, playing a little golf and being introduced to George’s girlfriend’s parents, Nick and Nida embarked on a California vacation – Warriors vs. Pistons in San Francisco, wine tasting in Napa Valley, trips to Monterey, Carmel and San Luis Obispo. Now, they are at North Ranch Country Club this week to watch, for the first time, George play college golf.
While George hasn’t played particularly well, posting rounds of 78-79 to open the spring-opening Southwestern Invitational, he has played better since his parents arrived on the ninth hole on Monday. After playing his first eight holes in 7 over, George birdied the ninth and played the back nine in even par.
Nick was more impressed with how much his son has grown as a man.
“His golf is looking solid, but he’s grown up,” Nick said. “He left England as a young boy, and now he’s a young man. I’m just so proud of him.”
Following Wednesday’s final round, Nick and Nida will drive down to San Diego to meet some of Nida’s family that they haven’t seen in 15 years. They then will head back to Las Vegas for another week with George (and potentially a few more trips to an authentic Cornish Pasty shop), and then it’s back home to Cornwall after four-and-a-half weeks in the U.S.
“I don’t know when the next time I’ll see them again,” said George, who reckoned he may try to go home after the spring season to play a few amateur tournaments. “Hopefully, this summer.”
For now, though, the Leighs are soaking up every second together. It had been way too long.