Because they are all outstanding athletes, almost all professional hockey players think they are also excellent golfers. Partly, that's because they spend so much time at it. When the weather gets warmer, practices usually get shorter and a lot of afternoons on non-game days are spent on golf courses.
Komets defenseman Tyler Butler is actually someone who can do more than just talk about golf. The veteran has the Professional Golf Association of America teaching certification and once taught lessons during the offseason a few years ago when he was living in Colorado, where the Komets will complete a weekend series tonight and Saturday.
``I was able to teach lessons all summer,'' he said. ``I held junior clinics and played in some cool events with other assistant professionals. It was nothing too glamorous or great, but I had fun.''
Several of his teammates said Butler can belt an iron shot as long or longer than they can with a driver.
Though he is a scratch golfer, Butler said he never gets to play as much as he'd like, maybe two or three days a week during the summer. He and his wife, Holly, have four children.
``My wife is pretty understanding knowing that I have to stay somewhat sharp at it,'' he said. ``I can't let it go completely and try and teach lessons if I'm shooting 90. When we have a off day and I don't have much to do around the house, or if Holly gives me the green light, I'm going to go out with the guys. It's just fun for me to get out and play.''
Before the season started, he got in a few rounds with future teammates Chris Auger, Eric Giosa and Ryan Hegarty. Maybe because the swings are similar and because the seasons are almost directly opposite, most hockey players are addicted to golf.
Butler said he learned from his father, and he's never had a lesson from a professional.
``My dad took me out when I was like 13, and I developed an athletic swing and stuck with it and got good,'' Butler said. ``I tried to figure the game out as much as I could instead of just hitting it. The only thing he told me was not to embarrass him by throwing clubs after bad shots. I almost learned the hard way one day. I threw a club and he gave me one more warning that if I ever did it again it would be the last time I ever went golfing with him. I was 13 or 14, but he'll tell you I was 28.''
Butler said it's easier for him to balance hockey and golf, partly because of those four kids. Holly never picked up the game, deciding it was something her husband could keep for himself. It also gives him another option besides coaching once his playing career is over.
``I'd like to be involved in hockey, but knowing I can be involved in golf too is pretty fun for me,'' Butler said.