Summer on the green

Published 5:45 pm Saturday, June 27, 2009

An intuitive and seasoned golf instructor, Ballantrae Golf Club’s general manager Butch Byrd knows the game and teaching techniques like no other.

“Everyone needs a teacher –– someone that he or she can trust,” said Byrd.

Retired Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes hired Byrd away from Tuscaloosa’s prominent NorthRiver Yacht Club in 2005.

“Byrd is an amazing observer. By just watching golfers play the game, Butch makes corrections to stance and swing that improve their game,” Hayes said. “He’s well-known and respected in the PGA, devoted to his church and always willing to help anyone.”

While many kids might learn from their parents, Byrd said kids take instruction better from teachers. Byrd should know. Although his father was a renowned golfer and golfing instructor, Byrd said, “I rarely heard anything my dad said about golf when I was a kid. To me, he was just my dad.”

Of course, there are parents like my husband and me, who knew nothing about golf. After playing at a church sports camp and with his grandfather, our son Justin was hooked on golf. At 15, he remains an avid golfer and he is a devoted believer in Byrd’s instructional skills.

Ballantrae is well-suited to beginning golfers because it is a well-maintained course that allows players to complete 18 holes in as few as four hours. Byrd’s philosophy is to minimize obstacles on the course to create a fast, fun and friendly golf course.

As a parent, I appreciate the life skills my son is learning on the golf course. Golfers have to learn to be patient and to be observant and courteous so they don’t interfere with anyone else’s shots.

The focus of competition in golf translates well to life. A golfer may beat an opponent or win a tournament, but true satisfaction is achieved only by improving his own game. Being better than he or she was yesterday means more than defeating others. As golfers, children learn success is defined by being our best, and not just being better than someone else –– and that’s a priceless lesson.

Ballantrae is hosting an intermediate juniors’ golf clinic from July 6-10 from 9–11 a.m. daily. Any student who has had beginner lessons at Ballantrae or another course is welcome. For more information, call head golf professional Hal Brown at 620-4652.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at