Tyler White came to ABAC last year as a freshman to play junior college golf. According to his head coach Larry Bonds, White’s work ethic is second to none and because of this, he has been selected as the team captain.
White is from Bridgenorth, Canada, which is 1,212 miles away from Tifton. When he is home, he only has four to five months out of the year to play golf, because of the weather.
“I find myself like other Canadian players who come to play in America,” said White. “When you get down here and you can play 12 months out of the year, you really see a lot of improvement that would have taken longer with the weather back home.”
White grew up playing more than one sport besides golf. He started playing hockey at an early age and even grappled with deciding if that was the sport he wanted to pursue after graduating high school. Nothing could top the rush of winning a golf tournament for the young athlete.
Byrnes has had other Canadian players on his team before, like Adam Park. Byrnes likes finding Canadian players because they always come with a strong work ethic and positive attitudes that inspire the rest of the team.
A college recruiter works with Byrnes from Canada and she sends players to Byrnes that she thinks will flourish under the mentorship and leadership Byrnes provides for the ABAC golf program. White has proven that he has what it takes and then some to be successful at ABAC.
Last year the golf team finished top 10 in the nation with White as a freshman. White looks back on the national tournament as a hard finish since the weather came down hard in Indiana and he didn’t have as much practice time in the two weeks leading up to the season.
The national tournament takes place two weeks after spring semester ends. White went home in between the weeks leading up to nationals. What he didn’t know at the time when he decided to go home was that Canada was experiencing one of the worst winters that the country has seen in years.
The golf courses near his home in Bridgenorth were all closed, and White didn’t have a chance to play enough golf to stay ready for the upcoming national tournament. The result was his performance suffered from the unanticipated two-week vacation from golf.
“When I got to the national tournament I felt a bit rusty,” said White. “But I still ended up placing in top 50. I strive for better than the top 50, so next year I look forward to being more prepared.”
This year White looks forward to being at the top of his game if the team qualifies for the national tournament again. He spends every day playing golf, practicing on the driving and putting range and working out in the gym to continue improving his abilities.
Beyond working on becoming a better athlete, White is a well-rounded student in the business school. Most days are busy for White with his golf team responsibilities as the team captain. He still finds time at the end of the day to complete schoolwork and eventually sleep.
As the team captain, White is a big leader on the team. He acts as a bridge sometimes between the coach and the team. The chemistry between Byrnes and White is strong and White enjoys mentoring the new freshmen players.
“I try to have team meetings where we talk about more than just golf, we talk about life and what we have going on,” said White. “As the captain, I have to decide when it’s time to joke around and have fun or if it is time to step it up and get serious. We have a good group of guys on the team and we have a good time.”
One of the challenges White sees in playing golf at a two-year college is, after freshmen year when the players get comfortable and adjusted, they must leave after their second year. That is why he takes his job as team captain seriously because he wants to prepare the younger guys and teach them that their first two years at ABAC goes quickly.
“It’s hard because it’s only a two year and just when you get settled it’s time to move on,” said White. “It’s not the same as a four-year school where you really get to build the team chemistry and establish yourself as a player.”
Strong leadership is the theme for ABAC Golf. Byrnes takes winning and playing golf seriously, but he cares the most about building the golf players into good people. Byrnes wants his players to carry themselves professionally on and off the field. Character building happens from the moment a golf player arrives at ABAC.
White admits he is not a naturally good golfer or the best, but what sets him aside from most players his age is how hard he strives to be the best he can be. Byrnes has built the strong golf program from prioritizing work ethic and character building and bringing professional students like White to play for ABAC.
When it came to leaving home, White was nervous but excited to attend school in a place he had never been to or heard about. He didn’t know what to expect with the southern accents he heard watching television. He recalls experienced a fair amount of culture shock from the southern culture was surrounded by.
“At first I didn’t know what to think about the accents people had,” said White. “Now I like joking around and messing with my friends and teammates with the southern accent. It’s a fun accent to mimic.”
One southern obstacle that took some time for White to get comfortable playing with is the gnats that swarm outside in the warm months.
“At first I had to put a towel around my head,” said White. I had to try anything to keep the gnats off me. It isn’t something I have ever been around coming from Canada.”
Playing golf with hot temperatures, bugs, and southern culture, in a nutshell, is something that has grown on White since starting school at ABAC in August 2018.
“I really love it down here,” said White. “I didn’t know how much I would come to like living here but ABAC has been a great place for me to live and improve my golf game.”
ABAC has enjoyed having Tyler White here as much as he enjoys being here. White has become the top athlete on the team and fans are hoping for an even more successful season out of White than last year. White and the team look forward to having another competitive year and going back to nationals.