When Nate Sexton bought an RV last year he and his wife, Brianna, had a plan. The plan was to travel the country with their 3-month old girl Coraline as Nate played disc golf on tour until Brianna returned to medical school the next year.
It was an ambitious, once in a lifetime opportunity that turned into an unforgettable experience. They toured all over the country, visited overseas, watched first-hand Coraline experience her first-year milestones, and got to experience some of Nate’s biggest moments of his disc golf career.
Let’s back up to the beginning of their journey, back in August of last year when the Sextons moved out of their house and loaded up their new RV and began their grand disc golf tour with the Pittsburgh Open. Crucial in making this family trip happen was Brianna, who put her medical schooling on hold. At the time she had finished her third year of medical school and instead of taking a year break to pursue research or a Masters of Public Health like many med students do, she decided to go on the road with Nate and Coraline.
Sexton didn’t fare well at the Pittsburgh Open, placing a disappointing 24th, but later secured three top 10 finishes before traveling down to Rock Hill, S.C., for the USDGC. It was Sexton’s eleventh time to play the event, and up until that point his best finish was 4th in 2015, when he had the lead going into the final round but could not hold on.
Something was different, though, about 2017. It was his week and using his steady, workingman’s approach he took the lead after Round 2 and held onto it after Round 3. After each round Sexton could be seen catching up with Brianna and Coraline, kind of like he was returning home after a hard day’s work on the course. Amid a wet final round, Sexton did not falter. He extended his lead early and stayed the course down the stretch. His only bogey came during the final round when he laid up to seal the biggest win of his career.
Here's Sexton during a crucial stretch on Hole 13.
Besides traveling to disc golf events, the family’s year together was also about being close to infant daughter Coraline (Nate and Brianna’s first child) and one another. In the RV near USDGC time, Nate and Brianna got to hear Coraline’s first laugh. Then in the offseason while staying with family in Oregon, they witnessed the first time she sat up and later her first crawling movements. Now she can walk while holding onto someone.
In between disc golf tour stops Sexton said the family visited national parks (a favorite past time of Brianna and his) and other fun detours like seeing penguins at a zoo in Kansas City, and an alligator farm in Florida. Following the disc golf tour also gave them the excuse to drop-in on family and friends that were along the way. The two of them also successfully ran more than 30 Sexton Shootouts.
However, it wasn’t always a picnic. Brianna said that life on the road would’ve been enough of a challenging adjustment with just the two of them, but adding an infant made if quite difficult. In the end though, she realized they had had about the same difficulty as other new parents, just in a different setting, albeit one with wheels.
“This way both Nate and I got to spend almost every day of her first year with Coraline, checking out every corner of the country and a few countries,” said Brianna.
By the Ledgestone Open this year, it was time for Brianna to return to the clinical rotation part of her medical school, so Nate journeyed to Peoria, IL for the Ledgestone solo. It was almost a year after his family had first set out on their RV tour and he came away with another big victory.
Up until that point, the 2018 season for Nate had been rather ho-hum.
“Now it’s a great success. Before a few days ago it was a little blah,” said Sexton after the Ledgestone from their temporary Airbnb home in Asheville, N.C. “That’s the thing about golf, it’s like there’s a new start every week. Winning the Ledgestone was huge for me. It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world. Now I’m looking at my season quite happily.”
Watching the final round, it was classic, controlled Sexton. A great lengthy birdie kept him with the lead card’s pace on Hole 7 as well as lots of precision forehands like on the island holes 9 and 17 and finally on his approach on 18, that landed safely and set him up for victory. It was a tight win that showed Sexton can stay focus when it counts.
Along with finding his rhythm, the course, with its ample OB and punitive tee shots, matched up with him well, said Sexton.
“That tends to favor me because I tend to stay in bounds pretty well,” said Sexton, who had the fewest OB penalties of the event according to UDisc Live’s stats.
After the Ledgestone, the family then went back on the road in September for a flying / RV trip to the Northeast. Brianna was able to take most of the month off to care for Coraline as Nate played in big events like the MVP Open in Massachusetts and the Pro World Championships in Vermont, placing 12th and 21st respectively. She started a new rotation at a dermatology clinic in Asheville at the end of September, so she and Coraline weren’t able to attend the USDGC again with Nate this year.
However, Nate’s dad, Jay, who has caddied for him for several years and who wasn’t able to make it last year, is here with Nate.
Though it’s been a year since his first major win, Winthrop Gold and the USDGC has still been on his mind. He’s been thinking about the ring ceremony for a while. To him it completes that process of being a champion, and he likes his chances of repeating.
“There isn’t a course that sets up for me better in the world. It’s mine to win. There is going to be a lot of guys going for it, but I think it’s within me to repeat,” said Sexton.
In many ways, playing the Ledgestone was a lot like a warm up for the USDGC because the two courses are so similar.
“I haven’t won anything yet this year so it was nice to win on the most similar course in the world to Winthrop Gold,” said Sexton.
Though Brianna is officially back in school, the family may still have several chances for RV travel time. But along with traveling to Nate’s tournaments, they may also be journeying to all of Brianna’s remaining clinical rotations which are in various parts of the country (one is even in Guatemala) followed by a period residency interviews, which could also be all over the map.
Who knows, maybe the Sextons will hold onto that RV indefinitely, even when Brianna settles into her family practice, so that whenever they feel the itch to travel, their second family home will be ready to go.