In this high-stakes adventure called life, Chris and Sara Griffin’s path together seems to find a lot of rolling hills and poa grass.
The Griffins are the power couple of golf in Washington: When they married in 2012, they became the only husband-wife team of the 1,173 club professionals in the Pacific Northwest PGA chapter.
Both are assistant professionals at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood.
And starting Monday, Chris will be in search of his second Washington Open Invitational title at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent.
Sara will be on the bag as the caddie, like she was for his first victory in 2013.
“It’s like golf is their middle name — it is what they live,” said Jill Thornton, whose husband, Brian, is the teaching professional at Meridian Valley. The two couples live in Sumner and hang out often.
“It is pretty amazing they work together, are married and they still like each other. They are just pretty sweet to each other. You just know that when you are around them.”
That was on display publicly for the first time in the final round of the 2013 state open.
Coming down the stretch, every ounce of Chris’ body tightened up at critical times.
Each time it happened, Sara was there to lighten the mood — with a joke, or a pep talk or a small shoulder rub.
“She gets golf,” Chris said. “She gets what I get out of golf, and that allows me to keep doing it.”
It isn’t a one-way street, either. When Sara plays in the biggest women’s event that comes to the Sound Sound — the Pepsi Invitational — Chris caddies for her as well.
In fact, that is a home-turf event for Sara (Berlin), a 1991 graduate of Federal Way High School who went on to play at Oregon State.
After nine seasons as the women’s golf coach at the University of San Francisco, Sara was hired at Tacoma C&GC in 2005.
“It’s funny, we became really, really good friends, and started hanging out with a group of people,” said Chris, a Lakes High School and Western Washington University graduate. “But I had a strict ‘ABC’ policy about dating — Anybody But a Co-worker.”
Both divorced, Chris and Sara were golf-playing friends who occasionally socialized. Sara had another job in the winter, working at a Starbucks in Mercer Island.
But in the winter holiday season in 2007, things began to change.
Sara purchased two tickets to the Tony Award-winning musical “Rent” in Seattle. She asked her female friends if they wanted to go with her. All of them had other plans.
At the last minute, in her words, she “begged” Chris to go with her.
They went to the show, had a late dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, then arrived back at the parking garage, only to find that their car was locked in.
“We walked a mile to the central location to get the car out,” Sara said.
Somewhere along that walk, love was born.
And some time over the next few weeks, they discussed how to handle dating as co-workers.
“We didn’t know what the club policy was,” Chris said, “so we kept it private.”
They dated in secrecy for an entire year until Chris left in the summer of 2008 to try tour golf.
He moved to Palm Springs, California, and Sara moved into his house in Puyallup while he was away.
“It was fun hiding it,” Sara said.
Not as much fun as it was for Chris to conceal his marriage proposal plans.
In May 2012, the Griffins took off with another couple — Greg and Monica Plancich — for a week of golf in Scotland.
The night before the Griffins were going to try to play the Old Course at St. Andrews, Chris told the Plancichs he was about to pop the question. The Plancichs agreed to bring along champagne and glasses to toast the occasion.
They teed off late in the afternoon.
And Chris started to feel the nerves.
“I had to pee,” he said, “on five consecutive holes.”
As the two crossed the famous Swilcan Burn Bridge on the 18th hole, Chris stopped. And Sara gasped.
“I started bawling,” she said.
Five months later, they wed on the 15th hole at Tacoma C&GC.
And the following April, the two had their honeymoon at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
Once they stepped on those hallowed grounds, it wasn’t the golf that first came to mind. It was a backyard decorating idea for their new house in Sumner.
“We had just built an artificial putting green there,” Chris said. “And when we got to Augusta, we turned to each other at the same time, and agreed we had to put pine straw around it.”
Besides unloading the boxes and boxes of pine straw shipped from Augusta, and spreading it in their backyard, Chris, 41, and Sara, 43, have one other shared love — the Seattle Seahawks. They are season ticket holders, along with Sara’s daughter, Emma, who is 14.
But their lives together are linked through golf.
“We are golf nerds,” Chris said.