Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about one of the nicest guys I have met that happens to be a really good golf instructor to boot, Bobby Hall. I kept hearing my golfing friends, both men, and women, rave about Bobby. It was more than just the lessons but the person himself. I scheduled a sit down to learn his secret; it was so much more.
It’s obvious that Bobby loves what he does. As the head pro at Quail Creek Golf Club in Fairhope, Bobby wears a lot of hats. Quail Creek is owned and operated by the City of Fairhope, and it’s Bobby’s baby to manage the facility, organize leagues and tournaments, and charity events, oversee food and beverage, and make sure the pro shop is carrying all the equipment and merchandise golfers want and need. And teach. “Generally, keep everyone happy,” he says.
This includes the Mayor, the City Council members, and the City employees who take a lot of pride in making Fairhope a special place, especially when it comes to recreational facilities including ball fields, soccer, and now, pickleball. Quail Creek is the City’s public golf facility that isn’t a big money maker. Bobby points out that the impact that golf facilities have throughout the Scenic 98 Coastal area is much bigger than most people realize.
“The network of golf clubs that host and support charity events year-round is incredible,” says Bobby. “This is the bottom line most people don’t see.” Bobby and Quail Creek organizes and supports huge charity events for FEEF, Shepard’s Place, Kiwanis Clubs, Prodisee Pantry Foodbank, the Jackson Clark Foundation for testicular cancer, Knights of Columbus, and the Lion’s Club International for sight and diabetes, just to name a few.
“Glen Lakes probably hosts 100 events a year and 70 to 80 of those are for non-profits in the community.” Other golf clubs like Lakewood, Holly Hills, Lake Forest, Gulf Shores Golf Club, Peninsula, and Craft Farms are all involved in organizing and supporting the community through these events. “Golf is expensive for the City, but the benefit for recreation and fundraising is important. I feel like I’m a member of every charity that hosts an event at Quail Creek,” he says.
In addition, Quail Creek has four different high school teams that use the golf facilities. Both the Fairhope High School boys' and girls' teams practice there. St. Michaels Catholic High School, Bayside Academy, and Robertsdale High School all practice and play there. “We try to help them with their golf programs.”
Bobby and his staff help plan events and schedule play for all these groups and are happy to do it. “The City Council participates in many of these charity events, and they understand the impact it has on the community. When they support the golf course, they are supporting many of these charities as well.
A little about Bobby. He was born in Waco, Texas to a military family and moved around accordingly. His father, a graduate of the Naval Academy, (along with Ross Perot) introduced him to golf at a young age. When the Army Air Corp branched off to become the United States Air Force, his dad signed up “for a seat” and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant.
His father flew reconnaissance missions in Vietnam. When Bobby was 9 years old, his father’s jet was shot down and he spent the next 8 years as a POW at the “Hanoi Hilton.” After the war ended, Bobby’s dad returned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi from Vietnam as a War Hero. Bobby was 17 years old at the time, and there is a book his father wrote about his experience, Commitment to Honor: A Prisoner of War Remembers Vietnam available through Amazon.
The family retired to Hattiesburg, MS, and Bobby and his dad started playing golf together. “I got interested in golf again and played in a lot of Pro-Ams. I was around a lot of guys that played golf for The University of Southern Mississippi, but I wasn’t on the team.” He became a member of the PGA. “I’m a golf professional, not a professional golfer. I never played on tour for a living.”
As a golf pro, Bobby has been at this game for a long time. He moved from Hattiesburg to the Eastern Shore in 1981 and has had stints in the area’s golf clubs at Lake Forest, Azalea City Golf Club, and spent 10 years at Skyline County Club, now Heron Lakes in Mobile. He has 14 years under his belt at Quail Creek where he runs the show.
He oversees Junior Golf, Senior Leagues for men on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Ladies Day on Tuesdays, and one Friday a month they do a couple's “Wine and Nine,” It has grown in popularity and, according to Bobby, it’s the best meal in town because everyone brings a covered dish. Social activity is an important aspect of Quail Creek. Seventy percent of players are retirees, and they support the club financially through their play and by purchasing food and drink. “We have a game for everybody,” says Bobby.
When asked about his teaching philosophy, Bobby says, “I try my best to keep it simple.” He goes on, “A good instructor has to learn to listen. Listen to the student's words, evaluate, and communicate on their terms. Golf can get complicated. You don’t want to overteach.” He tries to work on one concept at a time, and then asks, “Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”
“I never try to reinvent the wheel.” He says the golf swing hasn’t changed much since the time of Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, and Jack Nicklaus. “Those technical issues have overlapping fundamentals that stay the same.” He uses lots of real-time videos and photographs to show what makes a successful golf swing. He uses the V-1 system teaching app, then reviews the lesson at home and sends it to his students so they can see visually what they need to work on.
What about the mental part of the game, I ask. “I’m a counselor of the head game,” he says. “It depends on the individual’s perception of the game. Everyone is different. Set your personal par,” he says. “We all make bad shots. If you’re a 12 handicap, then your game includes 12 bogeys. Don’t let one bad shot ruin your round.” He also suggests playing in 6-hole intervals in your mind, extending the play past 18 holes if you have a really good round going and tend to botch the last three holes under self-imposed pressure.
Bobby offers three 30-minute lessons for $120. He wants his students to keep only one or two swing thoughts. “Keep it simple. Go to the range and hit like you’re playing a round of golf. Driver, long iron, short iron, wedge, etc. Don’t just go out and hit balls. There are way too many mulligans on the practice range.” His motto is to practice with a purpose.
My golfing friends, both men, and women rave about Bobby. “I love Bobby Hall!!! He’s the best coach ever!!,” said Jeanie Miller. Tony Atchison called me after his lesson and said, “He’s a great teacher and the nicest person you will ever meet.” Long-time senior golfer, Ron Kozlowski said, “He fixed my swing and I feel like Quail Creek in my club.” I’m sold!