Bear Trace’s Robin Boyer Finds Joy In Dual Passions Of Golf And Music

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024
  • Paul Payne

Robin Boyer has been a fixture at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay for the past 25 years. He has been the face of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course after arriving to serve as its head professional prior to its opening in 1999.

Serving as a genial host to golfers who enjoy the state-owned facility along Lake Chickamauga, Boyer has been a steady hand in guiding the course into becoming one of the Chattanooga area’s favorite courses. But even though Boyer has become synonymous with Bear Trace, he admits that golf was never his first love.

Instead, music was Boyer’s original passion. And when you unpack his childhood background, it’s certainly understandable why.

Boyer’s father, Ric, was a highly-acclaimed bass guitarist who moved his family to Nashville from Missouri in the early ‘80s to take a role in Barbara Mandrell’s band. He later married Mandrell’s sister, Irlene, and was a key musician for other notable stars such as Eddie Rabbitt and George Jones.

“Music became a huge part of my life at an early age,” Boyer said. “I was able to go backstage at the Grand Ole Opry as a child and meet so many greats of the music industry. Plus, I had Irline Mandrell as my stepmom.”

Boyer’s musical inclination drew him to drums, and he started playing in his early teens.

“I used to bang on the drums all time, just make a bunch of noise,” Boyer said. “I can't believe my mom let me do it. And then one day, I got a beat going with the bass drum, high hat and snare at the same time. It was it was truly magical.”

Boyer joined a local band playing wedding receptions in St. Louis, thinking that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. He musical odyssey would later lead him to playing rock music in south Florida before moving to Nashville where he toured with a country group named Awesome Possum.

“That was a nightmare,” Boyer said. “It was tough playing country music on the road so I just ended up playing in local bars and night clubs.”

Needing to supplement his musical gigs, Boyer eventually took a job at Opryland’s golf course waiting tables and bartending. This sparked another passion with his formal introduction to golf.

“I played in high school and a little bit in college, shooting mostly in the 80s,” Boyer said. “I just really enjoyed being at Opryland and being around country music and being around golfers. It was just a blast. A lot of country music stars came out there and played and I had the chance to play with some of them.”

Boyer quickly discovered a knack for the game, often beating some of the local professionals who encouraged him to pursue a career in golf.

He secured his PGA Membership at the club now known as Gaylord Springs Golf Links, then managed a club in Murfreesboro for a short time before finding out about a new course in the works in Chattanooga as part of the state’s Bear Trace undertaking

“I was told Harrison Bay would be the flagship property among their courses, so I decided to move to Chattanooga when I was 34. Now 25 years later, it’s the best decision I ever made.”

As the manager of the facility, Boyer has seen it flourish after some difficult years during the course’s early years when a third-party group was overseeing operations. The state eventually took full control, providing needed stability since then.

“The best part has been the people in Chattanooga,” Boyer said. “This is a great property, but the people are what make my job enjoyable. When I open up the door and start a pot of coffee, here come the golfers and they're always in a great mood. They may not be in a great mood after the round, but most of the time they just want to have a good time. That's what I really enjoy about this business.”

The duties required to create a firm foundation for the Bear Trace course forced Boyer to shove his musical aspirations aside. But the undeniable itch to pull his drums from the closet returned several years ago.

“Music was always there in the background, but I didn’t have time to play,” Boyer said. “Then seven or eight years ago, I started thinking about playing music again. I was playing drums on the side a little bit, but I wasn't really active with any bands locally.”

The intersection of Boyer’s past with the present all changed when he joined a band called DoubleShotz. Led by guitarist Sid Thompson - whose stage name is Texissippi Sid - along with bass guitarist Scott Cousino, the trio has become a staple among local live music venues.

The band has a wide-ranging setlist covering classic rock, Southern rock, Texas blues and country, always playing two songs in a row from an array of artists– hence, the name DoubleShotz. The band’s featured menu includes selections from Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Queen, Tom Petty, the Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles among others.

“It's a blast to be performing again with these guys,” Boyer said. “Sid is a great guitar player and a lot of fun. Scott’s also an amazing bass player. Sometimes we’ll kind of have a contest to see who can last longer to just sit and play for two hours before we'll take a break.”

The band’s upcoming schedule can be found on DoubleShotz/Texissippi Sid Facebook page.

Transitioning from his daily duties at Bear Trace and playing weekend gigs has been a smooth process for Boyer.

“I’m fortunate that I have a great staff here that have been with me for a long time,” Boyer said. “We work together great, so that I could do a gig on occasion on Friday or Saturday night. There are times when we’re hosting a big tournament that I have to let the guys in the band know I won’t be available, but it always works out.”

It’s also rewarding for Boyer to find time to enjoy both of his passions in recognition of his family’s musical roots.

“My dad is 77 now, and he still does gigs around Nashville,” Boyer said. “He did the Opry for many years and gave me a front-row seat to many of the greats in the music industry. It’s interesting how this has all come full-circle.”

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Paul Payne can be reached at paulpayne6249@gmail.com

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