HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Chris Barber, the executive golf professional and general manager at Kingston’s The Landings Golf Course and Teaching Centre, has had little time for tournament golf the past two years. But he does have a competitive golf priority.
The Canadian PGA and PGA of Ottawa Zone member has devoted a lot of time to help his daughter Madison develop her game. Madison has completed her first two years at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.
“I’ve been so busy the last couple of years that I haven’t made a commitment to golf tournaments. I have been helping my daughter get ready for college. I’ve lived vicariously through her,” said Barber, who has been her caddy on many occasions.
Well, Chris and Madison switched roles Monday at the PGA of Ottawa Zone Spring Open at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Madison carried the bag this time and Chris played a dramatic round to win the open title, after a one-hole playoff.
Besides playing his own round of two-under-par 70, which had eight birdies, four bogeys, one double bogey and five pars, he wanted his daughter to see how he managed his shots and have her contribute to the decision-making process as well.
“I would tell her what I was thinking. I’d ask for her input and to read the putts. What do you think?” Barber said. “My goal, my priority always is and remains her.
“You probably don’t learn as much when you win. You learn lessons the hard way. I made a lot of birdies. It looks easy, but it’s not easy. Next week, I could shoot 78. We tend to learn more from those experiences.”
Barber charged through the opening 12 holes on the Dunrobin, ON., course, marking seven birdies, two bogeys and three pars from the blue tees. Viewing the PGA of Ottawa website on his phone, he learned he was on top of the scoreboard by a few strokes.
But as things happen during a round, his game came back to earth over his next five holes – double bogey, bogey, par, par and bogey. That run of tentative shots and missed chances left him one shot behind Kingsway Park’s Michel Dagenais.
Needing a birdie on the par 5, 18th hole to force a playoff, Barber used a three-wood for his second shot that left him with a 20-foot eagle putt. He almost made it for the outright win, but tapped in for a two-under 70 and a playoff.
“That (second shot) was my best shot all day,” added Barber, who faced “a severe downhill lie” for his second shot on the playoff hole (No. 10), but converted it into a par. Dagenais settled for a bogey.
“A day like yesterday (Monday) has the potential to want me to play more,” said Barber, who would also be able to give Madison more real-life golf experiences while she carried his golf bag.
Dagenais was two-under par for his front nine and got to three-under after 12 holes, but recorded a bogey on the 15th hole. Dave McDonald of Royal Ottawa was third at 71 and Lee Curry of Camelot Golf and Country Club took fourth at 72.
In the senior division, Kingsway Park’s Marc Foucault posted a three-under par 69 from the white tees for a three-stroke victory. He had three birdies and six pars on the front nine and was even-par for the back nine.
Graham Gunn of Whitesands Golf and Practice Centre and Steven Hall of Pineview Golf Club tied for second place at even-par 72. Gunn birdied the 18th hole, while Hall birdied four of the final eight holes.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.