When the Region 2-AAAAA Golf Tournament starts Monday at Bartram Trail, Greenbrier High School junior Tyler Barker hopes to lead the Wolfpack to a repeat of 2013 when they won the region, automatically advancing to the state competition.
The Wolfpack’s low scorer likes their chances with their experience and the fact they’re playing on their home course.
“We still have pretty much the same team, same top six as last year, so I wouldn’t call us veterans, but I’d call us used to the surroundings, the pressure that comes with all this,” said Barker. ‘‘Since we’ve been a team for two or three years now, we know each other’s game good and we know how to help each other out, specifically on this golf course. It’s really going to help us toward state.”
Greenbrier head coach Alex Heider likes the attitude that Barker takes onto the course.
“Tyler is a competitor and wants to be in the place where his team can count on him to deliver,” said Heider. “Tyler wants to play at the next level and there is no doubt he will. He has great character, and while this game we play called golf is typically an individual sport, Tyler is all about the team and the success of the team.”
Barker picked up a plastic club at about age 4, a real club at age 7 and started playing competitively at 11 or 12. Also into other sports such as baseball and football, Barker eventually turned his focus solely to golf.
“My dad (Kevin) said if you want to get good at one sport you need to choose one, so I chose golf,” said the 5-foot-7 Barker. “I am so happy I made that choice. I’m not quite big enough for other sports.”
Barker has always felt good about his ball striking and is concentrating more on thinking his way through.
“You’ve got to play one shot at a time and you’ve got to pick the course apart and not try to get perfection,” Barker said. “I’ve always been pretty good physically, hitting the clubs, and I thought the better and better I get mentally, the better my scores would reflect.”
His father has been a major sounding board.
“Honestly, I just sit down and talk to my pops, my dad, and we sort of have personal talks about what’s going through my mind and he sort of got me on track with my thoughts out on the golf course and my attitude,” Barker said.
Barker won a Hurricane Junior Golf Tour before the season and rode that confidence into the season. He would like to go to a major Division I college to play golf but fears he hit his stride too late.
“All the big colleges, they fill up around freshman, sophomore year and I’m a junior,” Barker said. “I’ve got a few colleges looking at me; USC Aiken, Kennesaw – they were looking at me – Georgia Southern, stuff like that. I haven’t had any really big colleges just yet. I hope to get in one someday.”
And he hopes to use a hometown advantage to help fulfill a dream.
“I think it’s every Augusta boy’s dream to play in The Masters,” said Barker. “I worked the (practice) range last year for the first time when I was 16 and it’s great watching the pros and how they practice. You learn a lot definitely. I’ll be working the range again this year and go home, think about what it takes to get to that place.”