ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Day after day, Robin Love would wake without an alarm at the same time every morning: 5 o’clock, the time when their three-story, 12,000-square foot plantation-style home of more than 20 years caught fire on March 27, 2020.
“When you see 4:55 or 5 o’clock on the clock, you can’t go back to sleep,” her husband, World Golf Hall of Fame member Davis Love III said.
Often after the catastrophe, Robin would rise from her bed, drive over to the site of their old home and sit by the seven-stall horse barn that survived the flames and watch the sunrise. When Davis would get up, he’d wonder where his wife had gone and would call her. With concern in his voice, he’d ask, “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“I’m doing it because it makes me feel better,” Robin would say.
More on Davis Love III
In the aftermath of losing their home, and with it a lifetime of mementos and memories, in a two-alarm fire, the Loves experienced a range of emotions from disbelief to anger and finally acceptance. Nothing symbolized this transformation more than the horse barn.
“She wanted to tear it down,” Davis recalled. “She’d say, ‘I stood in that barn and watched my house burn down.’ She said, ‘I don’t think I can ever go back in there.’”
This is the story of how Robin Love came full circle, and now the couple is on the verge of breaking ground to rebuild their family home nestled among live oaks and palms on a secluded five-acre lot with prime marsh frontage.
Losing a lifetime of memories
Davis and Robin Love dated in high school at Glynn Academy, and the couple are the unofficial mayors of this picturesque corner of Southeast Georgia, the largest of a chain of barrier islands nicknamed the Golden Isles.
For a decade, the Loves hosted the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic pro-am draft party for tournament participants in a tent in their backyard, where guests feasted on the island’s best low-country cuisine and Robin made sure that every detail – down to the flowers on the tables – were right.
Their daughter Lexi was married at the home, as were a handful of friends. Charity events were held there. Losing their home was a traumatic experience, and each handled the pain and anguish in different ways.
“I remember hearing about Raymond Floyd (whose home burned down in 1992) and thinking that’s really sad but until you go through it you can’t imagine,” Davis said. “It’s hard because people ask questions all the time such as do you have that putter from that time? And I’m like, no, I actually don’t.
“It’s kind of like when somebody passes away, say you lose a parent, and you come up with something you say to everybody. I’m really good at deflecting. I’ll say, ‘Look at my new putter.’ I’m really good at changing the subject because you don’t want to say, ‘I lost everything I have in a fire and I have nothing left.’ And they go, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have brought that up.’”
Rotella helped with the healing
As he had done so many times before, Davis relied on the counsel of noted sports psychologist Bob Rotella.
“He’s a psychologist first, sports psychologist second. He’s helped me through my brother-in-law’s suicide, losing my dad, and all the things that have happened to me. He was all over it,” Davis said. “If it wasn’t for Rotella, I wouldn’t have gotten through it.”
Love’s first question? “What do I say to my granddaughter?” Davis recalled. “She wants to go see the house that is still smoldering. What do I do? She was 5. He says, ‘If she wants to go, take her. You tell her that it’s just things and we’re going to rebuild it and you can help pick out things for the house. Let her know everything is OK and life is going to move on.’
“We got there and she said, ‘Poppy, is the barn, OK?’ I said, ‘Yeah, the barn is fine.’ She goes, ‘What about the boat?’ I said, ‘The boat is fine. It’s at the dock.’ She said, ‘Well, then everything is going to be OK.’ Rotella let me let her be a part of it, and she saved the day for me. There’s 10 other stories like that, that he helped me say or do the right thing that made everyone else feel OK.”
Rotella said Love handled “this gut check” the way he always does: “He’s the strong one who turns his energy to helping everyone else.”
Rotella has long preached the importance of looking at everything that happens in life as a blessing. As such, all of his teachings are about perspective and how to respond to the ups and downs of life. He advised Love, “If you can find a silver lining, you can deal with anything.”
Rotella had another refrain he repeated: it’s going to take time, so, don’t do anything drastic.
‘The land is still here’
The Loves moved into a nearby house on the island and went so far as to put the property where their former home once stood on the market, but Davis deliberately set a price so outlandish that he knew it wouldn’t sell.
In the back of his mind, he hoped Robin would have a change of heart. Their new home was beautiful in its own right, and it quickly became a popular gathering spot for friends as Robin resumed her role as ‘the hostess with the most-ess.’ (Georgia football is undefeated the past two seasons since Robin started screening Bulldog games at their new pad.)
But as Robin said of their new home, “It’s like it really isn’t mine. I’d built everything else where we had lived.”
Before long, Robin started to be drawn back to the site of the old home. She fed her kittens there and tended to the garden and dealt with the emotional trauma she had suffered in her own way.
Davis remained concerned. He insisted he wasn’t going to leave her to play tournament golf until she met with a therapist. Robin set an appointment, went to the first session and at the end shook the therapist’s hand and said, “Thank you very much, I did this for my husband, and I won’t be coming back.”
Slowly but surely, Robin determined there was nothing to be gained by dwelling on the past. The wheels shifted in motion to move forward, and she began finding comfort on the grounds of their old place.
“The land is still here,” she said. “Just the house is gone.”
Love praises wife’s strength
The Loves continued to maintain the swimming pool at their former home and this is where Robin did her healing. Davis says that’s still a work in progress for her, and admittedly she was reluctant to talk for this story. Certain memories can trigger a flood of emotions.
“Christmas will be hard. My mom’s needlepoint stockings for everybody in the family, that’s the stuff that gets you. Golf things, that’s just stuff, but family heirlooms can’t be replaced,” Davis said. “I’m not going to have pictures to pass down to my kids because 90 percent of them are gone.”
On the one-year anniversary of the fire, Robin went to the barn and watched the sunrise, said her prayers thanking God for the two of them getting out of the house alive and pledged that she would build a new house.
“She’s an incredibly strong person and has gone through a lot,” Davis said. “A lot of people would have crawled into a hole and never come out.”
The Loves hired the architect that designed the home they bought after the fire and have incorporated their favorite elements of their temporary digs into the new design.
They are set to seek approval on plans in January, and hope to begin building a seaside cottage-style house early next year. The goal is to host the RSM Classic Pro-Am party in their old yard at their new house in November 2024. Then, and only then, the circle will be complete.
“It was my forever house and it’s gone, so this next one will have to be my forever house,” Robin said. She paused, chuckled, and said, “It will have to be. I’m getting too old.”