LaPlace golfer makes bold move with PGA in his sights

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2006



LAPLACE – There was never much argument about the potential golfing talent of Timothy Byrd.

For a kid to teach himself how to play golf at the age of 14, and find himself ranked number one in the junior state Golfweek rankings only three years later says quite a bit in itself.

But Byrd had some heads shaking just over a year ago when he decided that the swing which had taken him to quick golfing heights still wasn’t good enough. After consulting with a sports psychologist, Byrd made a move that many thought was downright crazy.

He went to renowned swing instructor Ron Gring in Mobile, Ala., who currently coaches a handful of PGA players, and laid his game on the line.

&#8220Yea, a lot of people were not so sure about doing that,” Byrd said with a bit of a laugh. &#8220But I have been playing against some of the best players in the world, and I knew I had to be better than I was.”

The past year, finishing his senior year playing for Rummel High, has indicated that Byrd’s decision was not only the right one, but a move that should keep him on the track to his ultimate goal of playing on the professional golf circuit.

Gring agrees, pointing to the dedication and commitment from his young prodigy during the past year.

&#8220Timothy Byrd’s talent?” Gring responded. &#8220I would say it in two words, unlimited potential. And the reason is that he completely understood and accepted the challenge to have the diligence and commitment to his game that it will take to be the best he can be.

Before I saw him, I don’t think he had what it took to be a world class player, but now he is probably in a group of 500 kids nationally who have that potential.”

Byrd capped off his senior year at Rummel recently by signing a college scholarship to Louisiana Tech, one of over 50 schools that recruited him. In the end, he narrowed his choices to top schools in Florida, LSU, Baylor and Memphis.

But Byrd sees the college game as a mere stepping stone to bigger things. And evidenced by the incredible success of this young prep star in only a few years of playing, it seems clear bigger things are to come.

He was a 5A All-State Golf Team member for each of the past three years, and finished tied for second in the 2005 state championship. He led his high school team to their first district title in 20 years, won the 2006 regional medalist title and was ranked the number one junior in Louisiana for over a year from 2004 to 2005.

He is currently ranked number two in the state, and 74th nationally in the class of 2006, according to Golfweek.

Byrd has spent much of the past couple of years playing in regional and national tournaments so he can compete against better players, and has also had strong finishes such as sixth at the AJGA at the TPC of Louisiana, fourth at the Joe Durant Southern Junior, ninth in the Southern Junior in 2005 with a low round of 69 on final day, and third at the AAU National with a low final round of 66 in 2005.

Still, for all his success, Byrd knew that a change in his game was necessary, something he has worked on for nearly a year and involved 20 components to his swing.

&#8220I’m down to the last couple of things to change in my swing,” he said. &#8220And I feel like it’s starting to come together now. I figure another three months and the swing should work completely.”

Byrd was always known as an extremely long hitter, but says his accuracy wasn’t as consistent as he wanted.

&#8220I would miss right or left, even if I did hit it a long ways,” he said. &#8220And the key for me is to be a better ball striker, not just a long hitter.”

Gring said it has been the work ethic and dedication of Byrd that has most impressed him, and convinced him that the future is unlimited.

&#8220A lot of young players have PGA potential, but the difference is in the accuracy and precision of their shots,” he explained. &#8220So much about being the best player is in preparation, and Timothy took what we have taught him, assessed what it would take to learn it, and has been so committed to working on the smallest details of his swing.”

Byrd graduated from Rummel this year with an overall GPA of 3.4 and has been active in many groups such as Big Brothers, Celebrity Waiter’s Luncheon, Operation Headstart, the Fellowship of Christian Athletics and is a member of First Baptist Church of LaPlace.

He is the son of Timmy and Tracy Byrd of LaPlace.