One Man’s Legacy
Quail Creek promotes sports, business and life.
By Evan Carden
The vision of a Decatur businessman to create a safe place for families to enjoy golf and other recreational opportunities is now his legacy that lives on after he is gone. That legacy is Quail Creek Golf Resort nestled at the foot of several mountains between Hartselle and Falkville.
At age 60, John Eyster, and Attorney/Developer from Decatur embarked on a new journey in life—to live his dream of building a family oriented golf course. With the help of his son-in-law Matt Nail, who now owns and operates Quail Creek, that dream became a reality. “During the construction of the course, he said he wanted it to be a safe place for young people and their families,” said Nail. “If you notice the sign at the entrance says ‘Welcome Home.’ That’s the feeling we want people to have when they are here.”
Nail, a minister, said he learned of Eyster’s plans on the night he and his wife (Carol) announced their plans to be married. “We drove to Mississippi State University, which has a professional golf management program and a program for how to build and run golf courses,” he said. “He (Eyster) wanted to build a simple course. He loved the game and wanted to introduce it to more people by making his course a friendly place for all to enjoy. He built this golf course the old fashioned way. It started out as a 9-hole course and eventually was expanded to include 18 holes.”
Eyster died in 2010. On July 3rd, 2003 Quail Creek observed its 20th anniversary. During those 20 years, it has seen numerous changes and growth, but one thing has never changed—the friendly, family atmosphere and putting God first. But, there is more to Quail Creek than just golf. There is a chapel on the property where church services are conducted, weddings are held and youth are encouraged to become servant leaders. Starting in the summer of 2013 Quail Creek Day Camps willl include hiking to the top of Quail’s tallest mountain, other sports and activities and most importantly, life skills training.
Nail serves as pastor of the interdenominational church and often uses golf to conduct his leadership training.
“The story of Quail Creek is the story of John Eyster, a man from Decatur, Alabama who had a vision for a golf course that would be a safe place for young people and their families,” said Nail. “His legacy lives on because of his servant leadership that is perpetual, as men and women have come to build this facility and to build this business in order to teach others how to continue to do that. Moms and dads have brought their children to play golf here and now their children are bringing their children to play this game of golf. Golf more than any other sport parallels the game of life. It requires confidence and humility, as taught by business author Ken Blanchard who wrote The One Minute Manager. The reference is from his book Lead Like Jesus, as he highlights the historical Jesus of Nazareth as the truest model servant leader of all time. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, Chapter 20, ‘Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.’”
“This kind of leading takes confidence and humility,” said Nail. “Rarely, if ever, you see this in one person at the same time, but this is the legacy of Mr. Eyster, the founder of Quail Creek.”