Zach Byrd, 25, is soaring into a successful year as he builds his nest here on the Grand Strand. It’s been said that good things come in 3’s so that may be the case with Byrd. This year has hatched new opportunities for him, including his recent Nationwide event in Santiago Chile and Monday After the Masters Pro-Am.
Zach is a CCU graduate and local golf sensation. During my interview with Byrd at TPC Myrtle Beach, he shared his professional golf goals, and divulged his interest in another sport, baseball. Next month he will be playing in his third exciting round of golf this year with fellow golf professional, Ali Garlinger….and this round of golf will be a life long journey together. As Byrd ascends the golfing ladder, he says his main goal is to always keep his family, friends and fans close.
Q: Tell me about last week’s Nationwide event in Santiago, Chile?
A: My putting was the issue. The greens were similar to a lot greens here at the beach during the summer, they were a slower bent and really firm and smooth. I hit it good enough to be eight-under after two rounds and I was even. I miss the cut by three. I had to make eagle on the last hole, a par 5, and tried to hammer it off the tee right. Mentally I missed the putt by 2 because I knew I had to make eagle, I was pressing and trying my best to make the cut. It was just one of those weeks where nothing went right, but I learned a lot.
Q: Did your caddy speak English in Chile?
A: No. Huge disadvantage going down there. That’s the thing, Tom (my buddy that caddy’s for me) sent me a text and asked me if he needed to come. I told him I could not afford to bring him down there. He asked me how I was going to go down there without an English-speaking caddy for my first Nationwide event. I told him that I did not have an option. I wanted him to come, but I could not put up $4,000 to send him down there. I would have to eat Ramon noodles (laughing).
Q: When is your next event?
A: My next event is next month in May at the BMW Championship.
Q: How old were you when you started playing golf?
A: My Dad took me to the golf course when I was two-years-old…to get me out of my Mom’s hair (laughing). Apparently I love it. I would go out there and kick pine cones around and use my plastic golf clubs. I would beat them up until they were broken. My Dad cut down a 5 wood and putter for me and let me go. My parents never had to push me to play golf; I did it on my own. I home-schooled, so I had the opportunity to play a lot of golf and I played a ton of junior golf. I also played baseball, which I love, and had to choose between the two sports at the age of 15. My Dad and I have always been huge baseball fans. When I’m not playing golf, you will find me kicked back watching baseball on my flat screen (smiling).
Q: What are your great obstacles that you have been face with while pursuing your dream as a PGA tour player?
A: One thing that I learned in Chile was that everyone has financial backing. I was looked at by a lot of my friends as an alien, by not having financial backing. One of the guys asked me how I stand over 5-footer without thinking about that. I guess I just try not, too. I’m finding it is impossible to play without help. Thank God I had someone to help me make the trip to Chile. Someone stepped up and helped me out. At this point, I have to open up my mind and try to find help because I can’t do it by myself.
Q: What is a normal practice day like for you?
A: I play more than I practice. If I play with my buddies in the afternoon, I will come out early and hit balls. I have been working on my putting a lot of hours.
Q: What are your strengths as a player and how are they different from other tour players?
A: My personality. There are a lot of great guys with good personalities, too, but I like to think about myself as one who people look at as a great guy and always good to the fans. I want to be known as doing things the right way, maybe even a breath of fresh air. You have to remember where you came from. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I choose to live.
Meredith Kirk is a USGTF level 3 certified Myrtle Beach golf instructor and is passionate about teaching golf to all levels of players. Her teaching methods combine golf mechanics with mind-body-spirit connection. She holds a BA from Coastal Carolina University in Public Relations in the Church and is a graduate of Trinity Bible College and Theological Seminary with a degree in Bible Counseling. She is also the author of the book, “Thy Club and Thy Staff“. A brand new release that tees up 21 devotions bringing together the basics of good golf and the fundamentals of strong faith.
Visit her online site at http://www.meredithkirkgolf.com/