QB passes on Pro-Vs

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

There's no quicker or better way to get to know someone than by teeing it up with them. Regardless of how good or bad a person's swing or scorecard might look, how they approach the game says a lot about their personality. At the very least, five hours on the links also opens the door for conversation on topics far beyond a person's chosen field of work.

Sun columnist Eric Francis, a 4-handicap who logs more than 60 rounds a year, today kicks off a regular feature called "Golfing With..." in an effort to take readers on 18-hole outings with the city's biggest names in sports.

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Henry Burris' teammates can attest to the fact the Stamps quarterback rarely does anything quickly.

However, when informed the dozen Titleists he purchased in the pro shop were the most expensive golf balls in the world, the laid back Oklahoma product demonstrated the type of footwork he generally reserves for scrambling out of the pocket.

"I thought that was a little expensive for a box of balls," said a wide-eyed Burris when told the 12-pack of Pro-Vs he randomly selected for $89 were generally reserved for low-handicappers or high-falutin' hacks. "I couldn't believe when she handed me the credit card receipt. Shoot, those things are staying in the box. I'm taking those back right after the next hole. I'm not a good golfer."

Part of Burris' charm has always been his way of understating things. Indeed, Burris is not a good golfer. But that doesn't dampen the relative newcomer's enthusiasm for hitting the links whenever he gets a chance.

"I was introduced to the sport when I came to Calgary in 1997 because everybody played it," said Burris, looking for his ball at Valley Ridge amongst several 'Christmas trees,' as he put it.

"They handed me a six-pack of (coolers) that day and I had so much fun because you could have a beverage, enjoy the scenery, the wildlife, your buddies and it's not a physical sport. It allows me to get my mind off of football and escape everything."

Exhausted following a week of intense promotional appearances, which included three rounds of golf, Burris sets up on the tee the same way he does almost every hole -- with a 1-iron. His awkward, self-taught swing somehow manages to muscle the ball close to 200 yards most times. He does not own a wood.

"The only Woods I mess with is Tiger," laughed Burris, nicknamed Smilin' Hank by Jeff Garcia years back.

Prior to inheriting Garcia's monicker, the ever-grinning Temple grad arrived in Calgary as Hammerin' Hank, which explains his short game. Suffice it to say he's rarely short on a putt, somehow managing twice to ram a couple 15-footers into the cup.

A more telling nickname came from former Stamps QB coach Danny Barrett years back when he dubbed Burris 'Big Bank Hank' based on his potential.

"Now it's being taken out of context," said Burris, who'll make almost $400,000 as a Red & White reincarnate. "I sure won't ever be spending $89 on balls."

In the midst of a football journey that saw him make one start and six appearances for Chicago during a two-year stint down south, Burris insists he has no regrets as he settles into his Bridgeland condo with wife Nicole.

"I learned a lot since I was here last -- especially in the NFL -- and if I had to do it all over again I would," said the gap-toothed 29-year-old who spent three years backing up Garcia and Dave Dickenson in Calgary before a stint in Regina landed him on Green Bay's sideline.

"It all happened for a reason and it's all about being happy, which I am because it's all about playing."

Football, that is.

As far as playing golf, which he does as much as a dozen times a year, the well-dressed Burris can at least take pride in a rare ability to entertain playing partners by mimicking bird calls brilliantly.

"I love it out here," said Burris, unconcerned with a scorecard that hit triple digits long before the 18th.

"I just try to get it in in under four or five or whatever."

Luckily, it's not a goal he's in any hurry to accomplish with any regularity.


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