by Beth Ann Baldry
TAMPA, Florida -- Mallory Code, a former AJGA All-American and player at the University of Florida, died Monday, November 9 from complications of cystic fibrosis. She was 25.
Code was unconscious when her father, Brian, found her Saturday afternoon in her Tampa, Fla., apartment. Although cystic fibrosis is ultimately a deadly disease, Code’s death still came as a surprise to family members, as she had seemed to be recovering well from a recent hospital stay.
“She had her faith, and she knew where she was ultimately going,” said Brian Code, who had planned to watch the Florida football game on television with his daughter Saturday night.
On Monday, doctors discovered massive swelling in her brain and pronounced her brain dead at 6:30 p.m. Nearly 50 friends and family had gathered at a Tampa hospital to lend their support to the Codes.
“She died less than 24 hours ago, and we’ve already been flooded with notes,” said Mallory’s older sister, Whitney.
Mallory Code was the youngest of three children, all of whom were homeschooled and played golf at Florida. She grew up playing at Tampa’s Avila Golf and Country Club, following in the footsteps of Whitney and older brother Jordan.
Mallory’s ability to keep a positive attitude despite a barrage of health issues was an inspiration to many. She won the 2000 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions wearing a heart monitor.
“You probably know of her golfing accomplishments,” Brian Code said. “She became quite a sought-after speaker at age 15.”
Mallory would deliver 45-minute speeches in front of thousands of people without the aid of a single note, starting every speech with the same line: “I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.”
Her circle of supporters in the golf community was immense. But she also touched many lives as an accomplished ballet and tap dancer. As a national spokesperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Code’s circle of well-wishers included Jeb Bush, Marcus Allen and Boomer Esiason.
Code played only one tournament for Jill Briles-Hinton at Florida. She suffered a wrist injury as a freshman and then complications from her condition kept her in and out of hospitals for most of her sophomore year. When things looked especially grim in 2005, Briles-Hinton had a UF letter jacket sent to Code’s hospital room in Denver. Code, a four-time winner on the AJGA, never played another round of golf after her freshman year.
“In my opinion, she was always on the team,” Briles-Hinton said.
Code played on three Canon Cup teams as well as the 2002 U.S. Ping Junior Solheim Cup team. Her list of close friends included current LPGA players Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lang and Nicole Hage.
“If you ever spent any time with her, she touched your life in a way that made you rethink everything,” said Pressel by phone in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“When she walked in a room, she brightened the place up.”
Code’s time on the AJGA circuit had a profound impact. She kept up with a wide social circle as an adult, keeping her eye on a game that was taken away from her far too early. Asked to describe Code the player, Briles-Hinton called her “phenomenal.”
“(Golf) was just priceless to her,” Brian Code said. “Those are memories she never let go of.”
It took Code two extra years to get her coveted degree in English from Florida because of her extended hospital visits. She graduated in Gainesville in August and celebrated her walk across the stage with family. In the months after graduation, Code developed a Web site, thedealbloodhound.com, dedicated to helping people save money with coupons. She spent up to five hours a day updating it and building Web traffic, hoping to one day sell ads. It was a venture she could have managed from her hospital bed.
Like many of Code’s dreams, the Web site is another one that will go unfulfilled. But don’t feel sorry for her. The Code family, strong in their Christian faith, clings to the knowledge that Mallory no longer suffers.
“She’s enjoying a whole body,” Whitney said. “She was a fighter.”