For The Tribune

During his childhood, Buddy Shelton took a liking to golf, and he decided he wanted to become a professional golfer.

He realized that dream when he turned pro in 1967. He went on to play on the PGA Tour for 15 years, but he said never had the kind of success for which he had hoped.

“I wasn’t playing that good and having a hard time making a living and realized in the late 1970s I could hit some trick shots,” Shelton said.

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So he started doing exhibitions for corporations and charities in 1979 or 80, and he’s never looked back.

His latest stop was Saturday at Shadowood Golf Course in Seymour as part of Trinity Lutheran High School’s 12th annual golf scramble. This is the second time he has appeared at Shadowood; he also was there in 1996.

“I’ve been in every major city, every major golf course, and in Japan, Italy, Germany, Australia, so I’ve just gone all over the world,” he said.

“The economy cut back on me a little bit, but in my prime I was doing 60 to 70 events a year. Now I do around 20. I don’t turn anything down. Corporate golf has really dropped off, and even the charities will tell you it’s hard to get donations and stuff like that.”

Aaron Rudzinski, athletics director at Trinity Lutheran High School, said 13 foursomes participated in the scramble Saturday.

“The funds go to the general athletic fund so that helps to pay for uniforms and equipment, mostly because the athletic fund is on its own and raises its own money,” Rudzinski said.

“This is one of the ways we can help out the program.”

Rudzinski said the school hopes to raise $4,000 to 5,000 from the golf outing each year.

“That could easily pay for a set of uniforms, plus some equipment for a team,” he said.

Shelton said, “I do quite a few for church events. Most of the time it’s a church-orientated school.”

He also spoke Sunday at Peace Lutheran Church in Seymour.

“I like people to have a good time,” he said of his golf presentations. “I really enjoy the entertainment part and watching the reaction of the crowd. It’s a lot of fun to pick up a club, for instance a club I’ve got put together with chain links.

“You hear people in the crowd, before you even try to hit it say there’s no way he can hit that. When you hit it, and hit it good there is a lot of gratification hitting something they think can’t be done.”

During his presentation Saturday, Shelton hit shots from his knees, hits shots with a club in each hand, and he was hitting balls more than 100 yards with a putter.

“I was kidding some guys (Saturday) morning. I said, ‘I’ll show you a good time before you go out to play because I know when you play you won’t have any fun,’” Shelton said.

“I do put some education in it. I spend six to seven minutes trying to help people with their swing and tell them some do’s and don’ts, what I call the fundamental of a golf swing.

“I’ve had people stop me in airports and tell me I helped their game. I asked then what did I do and they say. ‘We noticed you never tried to hit the ball hard, that you just always swung the club,’” he said.

“The biggest thing I try to tell people is that even though you have knowledge in the golf club, you have to have faith in the club, because if you have no faith in just swinging the club, if you have no faith, or if you get to the top of your club and you decide this is the wrong club, you’re in trouble.”

Shelton, who said he plays a regular ground of golf a couple times a month, said “I think what I show them helps them to play better. I try to show them a little better attitude. Most people let their brain get in the way while they’re playing.

“I just enjoy being with people, cutting up and telling jokes, and hitting crazy shots. I like challenging them, too. It’s fun to have them hit their best shot, and then me get on my knees and beat them.”

Shelton, who also races cars on road courses for a hobby, plans to stop today at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and race on the track before heading to his home in Orlando, Florida.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.