Where do former rodeo champions go when they ride off into the sunset after calling it a career?
Well it seems there are quite a few who have turned in their ropes, jeans and saddles for a bag full of golf clubs.
Joe Butterfield, who calls Ponoka home, was a Canadian calf roping champion in 1990 and then two years later he was the top steer wrestler at the Calgary Stampede.
He stopped traveling the rodeo circuit about six years ago and last summer decided he would try his hand at golf.
“A good friend of mine, Cliff Williamson (tie down roper) does it and Cliff was a rodeo hero and I could see the enjoyment he got out of it and I used to do it, just enough to know that I couldn’t do it,” he said.
He is addicted to the Golf Channel , on the Internet YouTubing golf and enjoys the feeling you get when you hit one clean down the middle.
It is no surprise Butterfield wants to get better at golf because he was a tough competitor during his rodeo days .
He is taking the same approach to golf as he did to roping calves by spending plenty of time practicing .
“I knew I wasn’t very strong with my rope so I spent hours and hours roping a bale to get good with that tool and I see that parallel with the golf club.”
Butterfield also learned how to wrestle steers by watching his family members do it before he was big enough to wrestle his own and following the same path for golf.
“I’m watching everybody’s swings and in order for me, it seems to hit a nice golf ball I have to do the same things the pros do in order to get it down the middle,” he said. “If I do it wrong it doesn’t go anywhere where I can play it.”
He said the best cowboy golfer he knows is the aforementioned Williamson so the next question is when are you going to be good enough to beat him?
“He said I’d be a pain in the arse in another couple of years and that was a year ago,” he said. “He told me it would be four years before I even figured it out.”
In the meantime, back to watching the pros, taking lessons and absorbing all things golf.