The LPGA Tour doesn't have a tournament on Mother's Day this year, but if it did, Julieta Granada would still be able to spend it with her mom, Rosa.
They have spent tournament Sundays together for the entirety of Julieta's 10-year LPGA career, and plenty of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, too. Julieta and Rosa are the unique daughter and mother who are also player and caddie -- the only such arrangement on the tour.
A player-caddie relationship in professional golf can have the permanence of a paper plate. But through more than 200 tournaments, seasons of both satisfaction and frustration, Julieta and Rosa have maintained an enduring and enjoyable bond.
"We get along great," says Julieta. "We're human, but if we have a disagreement we talk about it. We're pretty good with moving on. She's super intense and I'm super light -- I don't really stress over anything. The balance is perfect."
"It's not a miracle," Rosa, 56, said of her run as Julieta's caddie. "We are always working on a relationship and talk about things."
If not for some talks Rosa had with Julieta soon after they arrived in the United States 14 years ago, her daughter's life could have turned out much differently. The Paraguay natives moved to the U.S. when Julieta, then 14, got a scholarship to attend the Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Life was much different than it had been in South America.
Instead of being the best junior golfer, as she had been in her home country, Julieta was one of many excellent players refining their talents at the Leadbetter facility, including Paula Creamer. The teenager was homesick -- her father, Alejandro, remained in Paraguay -- and she was not yet fluent in English. Money was tight, and mother and daughter rode bicycles to get around. A tropical storm wreaked havoc, followed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It was very emotional, a lot to deal with," recalls Julieta, now 28. "I thought we should just go home. She said, 'Julie, we have a six-month scholarship, let's experience this.' She said, 'We can handle one more week.' I said, 'OK, one more week sounds good.' We kept doing that. All of a sudden now, I've spent half my life here."
Rosa, an architect, was a skilled amateur golfer in Paraguay who introduced her only child to the sport. "She was the one winning tournaments," Julieta says. "Our living room was mostly her trophies."
After having caddied occasionally for Julieta during her amateur career -- the highlight of which was a victory in the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship -- Rosa got the bag when her daughter turned pro in 2005 and joined the Futures (now Symetra) Tour.
"We didn't have a lot of money and she was there," Julieta says. "Why not? She knew my game super well."
After Julieta earned her card for the 2006 LPGA season with a tie for sixth at the qualifying tournament in late 2005, Rosa remained alongside her daughter.
"When she started as my caddie, it was never discussed as a long-term position," Julieta says. "In my rookie year on the LPGA, I was doing my own numbers [yardages] and pretty much picking my clubs. If I had a question, I would ask her. She was there more for emotional support. We did it week by week, and we kept getting along."
Julieta's rookie season ended spectacularly, with a victory and record $1 million payday in the LPGA Playoffs at the ADT. She was fourth on the money list. Two years later, though, Julieta's play soured. From 2008-10, she finished no better than 94th in earnings. But Rosa, with whom Julieta shares a home in Orlando and lodging on the road, remained a constant in her daughter's game.
"It's an easy thing to say that we'll change the caddie, we'll change the energy and that will fix things up," Julieta says. "But usually you need to figure things. She wasn't doing a bad job; I wasn't hitting where I was aiming. If I aim at a target and hit it 50 yards right, that's not the caddie's mistake. Those were tough years. It was not easy playing bad after having success. But she always looks at the positive, and she said: 'Let's go practice. We'll figure it out. We'll get better.' "
Rosa suggested switching instructors, and Julieta began working with Sean Foley in 2010. She improved to 61st on the money list in 2011 and has been playing solidly since. Julieta is coming off a year in which she ranked 18th in earnings and lost a playoff to Lydia Ko at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
After a decade on the job, Rosa is much more than a sounding board for Julieta. "Now, she does the numbers, including the inclines on the green," Julieta says. "She is great with picking clubs into the wind. She helps me with any kind of decision I have on the course. Definitely it is more like a friend relationship than a mother-daughter relationship now that I am older. If I need some advice, as a mother she is there for me. We keep our relationship pretty simple."
And their golf bag as light as possible. Rosa, 5-foot-4, totes a staff bag, but it is the smaller of two models that Julieta's manufacturer offers, and Julieta estimates it weighs 35 pounds.
"It's not light, but it's definitely lighter than anything else out there," Julieta says. "I only carry six or seven golf balls, and I usually take the extra stuff out and leave it in the locker room before I tee off. We rarely take the raingear or the umbrella. If it says it's going to rain, sometimes we gamble on it."
Julieta says she pays her mother as she would someone else -- a weekly salary and percentage of winnings. "She does it for the love of the game and for the love of me," says Julieta, who has earned nearly $4 million in her LPGA career. "But she is there working. It's only fair."
Rosa is a trouper, choosing to work even if she isn't feeling 100 percent. "She's so tough," Julieta says. "This year in Singapore, it was really hot and she had a cold. I could have gotten someone else. But she said, 'No, I'm fine. I can do it.' "
Asked if there were long, hot, frustrating days when she wished she were inside a cool office examining blueprints, Rosa said: "From my heart, no. I love to caddie for her on good days and bad days."
The Granadas return to Paraguay several times a year to visit friends and family but love life on the road. "It's just easy," Julieta says. "We don't look at it like, 'Oh my gosh, here's another minute I have to spend with her.' We don't mind spending time with each other."
When they travel within the United States, Julieta's poodle, Bimba, which she got during her rookie season, comes with them. A growing number of pet-friendly hotels makes it easier.
They are taking the on-course partnership as they did those early days living in unfamiliar land.
"We have taken it one week at a time," Julieta says. "If something comes up and we need to reassess, to change, it will happen. For now, we definitely enjoy being out there together, traveling together, making birdies together. We have a really amazing life. I admire that she is following my dreams with me and helping me achieve them. She is a pretty special mom."