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Twins David and Maxwell Ford reunite on No. 1 UNC men's golf team


Photos Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications

Maxwell is three inches taller. David is left-handed. Beyond that, David and Maxwell Ford are two of the same.

So, without knowing their height or handedness, how does one tell them apart?

The question puzzles them both. When asked this one day at the Chapman Golf Center, Maxwell tried answering first. (UNC men’s head golf coach Andrew DiBitetto confirmed it was indeed Maxwell who had just walked by.)

“I don’t know,” Maxwell said. “When people ask me, I just say I’m a little taller.”

Then David. Calm and collected, he leaned back and took a long pause.

“I don’t know honestly,” he said. 

Their mom, Karen Ford, said Maxwell is slightly more analytical, while David is more "gut-feel." She even had the twins psychologically tested.

“They weren’t really discernibly anything,” Karen said of the results.

Two of a kind who are one of a kind, and a one-of-a-kind relationship.

Okay, two isn't exactly right. The Fords are actually triplets. Abigail, Maxwell and David Ford were born on Sept. 14, 2002, to parents Karen and Patrick Ford in Peachtree Corners, GA. — a small city just north of Atlanta. 

Maxwell and David are identical twins with an identical pursuit — golf. And they play lots of it. What started as young boys hitting on the range at the Atlanta Athletic Club with their dad has led to a reunion in Chapel Hill where, as teammates and friends (and top-35 amateurs in the world) they play on the No. 1 North Carolina men’s golf team.

It wasn't always like that. 

Born competitors 

A typical day in the Ford household looked like this:

After the day’s homeschool lessons were complete, Karen often dropped Abigail off at the barn to ride horses and Maxwell and David at the golf course.

By the time the brothers were 14, they were hooked and were often the last to leave the course.

“All we did was compete,” David said. “We weren’t really friends, and we just wanted to rip each other’s faces off on the course.”

Maxwell recalled a specific nine-hole round in which he had a significant lead on his brother after just three holes.

“I remember looking at [David] and thinking that he’s about to run through a wall,” Maxwell said. 

They pushed each other to get better, and better they have become. 

David is now the fifth-ranked amateur in the world and was part of the USA’s winning Walker Cup team at St. Andrews last month. Maxwell is ranked 33rd, and, in his first tournament as a Tar Heel, he paced UNC, finishing second on the individual leaderboard at Olympia Fields.

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“David doesn’t want to lose to Maxwell; Maxwell doesn’t want to lose to David,” DiBitetto said. “But it’s a very healthy competitive spirit between the two because they both love the game, they love competition and they love pushing each other.”

Closer apart

Through middle and high school, Maxwell and David played golf against each other every day. They weren’t necessarily friends, but they were content with that. 

Then, things changed. 

About a month after David committed to UNC, Maxwell decided the better fit for him was Georgia. They were happy at different schools, but, for the first time, they were apart. 

Once separate, they became closer.

“It wasn’t until they got away from each other,” Karen said. “That’s when I think they started to see the value of friendship.”

As the brothers saw each other during holidays and over the summer, they realized they were more similar than they thought. They started a Zoom Bible study every Thursday with friends from back home. Trust and understanding grew, and a friendship bloomed.

“It’s cool to have somebody that you can talk to about something, and he understands what I’m saying,” David said. “And I understand him better than anybody.”

So, after two years at Georgia, Maxwell decided to enter the transfer portal and reunite with his brother. If UNC was great for David, he thought it was going to be great for him too.

This past summer, as Maxwell sat next to his twin driving in a cart up the last hole during a tournament practice round, he decided to tell David he was going to be a Tar Heel.

David didn’t budge.

“I just sat there, and I was like, ‘alright bet,’” David said. “I didn’t even look at him. I was like, 'alright sweet, let's go.' But in my heart, I was like ‘that’s the most amazing thing ever.’”

Two of a kind who are one of a kind, and a one-of-a-kind relationship that has pushed both brothers to be better.

So, would you all be where you are now without each other, Maxwell?

“No," he said. "Definitely not."

@dthsports |