Saying good-bye

Byng coach Jerald Harris watches one of his players practice putting Wednesday on the greens he created for the golf program.Harris is expected to retire this spring after starting the program six years ago.

Photo by Richard R. Barron
Ada Evening News

BYNG — A decade ago, there was no golf program in place at Byng High School. Now, not only is there a boys and a girls golf program at the school, there’s a small golf facility on the east side of the campus.

All this came from the mind of Jerald Harris, who has been the Pirates’ and Lady Pirates’ head coach since the golf program was created.

“There was interest among some kids that wanted to play golf,” said Harris, who will retire as golf coach at the end of this spring. “The A.D. was Kevin Flowers then, and he asked me if I would be willing to start the golf program. So, we did. We’ve been doing this for about six years.”

To see something come full circle, from nothing to a pretty-well established boys and girls golf program is pleasing to Harris.

“The number of kids who have played, and the interest, has grown.” he said. “We built a practice facility here. One of my goals was to get a lot of students interested in golf who might not normally play. I was really trying to build a program, but I really don’t consider myself what you would call a coach. There’s a lot of good coaches around here. We were just trying to build a program that somebody would take over.”

As for his final season as coach, both the Lady Pirates and Pirates have had successful 2010 seasons. The girls made it to this week’s Class 4A Regional Tournament at Ardmore’s Lakeview Golf Club on Tuesday, while the Pirates will begin postseason play this week with the Class 4A Regional Qualifier at Purcell’s Brent Bruehl Golf Course on Monday.

“The girls have played really well this year,” Harris said. “The girls are really young, so whoever takes over the girls team will have a lot of talent to work with. The boys are playing well, also. They’re bringing their scores down. I’m really happy with all of them.”

Whether or not the golfers are stepping up their game to send Harris out a winner, Byng’s ‘founding father’ of golf is not quite certain.

“If so, I don’t know,” Harris said. “I don’t know if that’s a big deal or not. I really couldn’t say.”

When Harris steps away and looks back at his ‘child,’ what he will remember, and cherish, the most will be the players he has coached.

“I’ve enjoyed all the kids,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of good athletes. Some of them weren’t great athletes, but they were very enjoyable to coach through the years. That’s the main thing. The year before last (2008), we had one boy, Chris Anderson, go to state. He got qualified for state, and got to play in the state tournament. This year, the girls have won tournaments, as well as having a lot of seconds and thirds, individually and as a team. This is the first year we’ve had first-place winners both as individuals and as a team. The girls have won three tournaments this year.”

Whether or not the season for the Byng teams will advance farther than this week, meaning a state trip for the Lady Pirates and a trip to the regional tournament for the Pirates, Harris still will have no regrets of stepping down.

“Even if they don’t (advance), it’s been great for me,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a good year. If this week is the last week we play, it’s still been a good year from all the accomplishments. We want to go further, and keep playing, but I’d be satisfied if it ended right now.”

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