Vallivue junior wants to uphold her family tradition by winning state golf tournament

ccripe@idahostatesman.comMay 13, 2013 

Vallivue's Gabby Barker won 10 tournaments during the regular season and took third at the district meet.


Vallivue High junior golfer Gabby Barker played a round at TimberStone Golf Course in Caldwell a week ago with her usual partners: her dad, Dwight, who taught her the game, and her sister, Tyler, who won two state championships.

They played the championship tees. And Gabby shot even par to beat them both by several shots.

Still just 16, Barker has blossomed into one of the state's best players. She had won all 10 of her high school tournaments this season before finishing third last week in the 5A District Three tournament at SpurWing Country Club.

She's still one of the players to beat in the 5A state tournament Monday and Tuesday at Lewiston Country Club.

"This year, with being kind of the leader, it's made a huge difference," Vallivue coach Valerie Orr said. "I've just seen her kind of grow up. The previous two years she did well, but she was kind of up and down."

This is Barker's first season without Tyler, who signed with Wyoming out of high school but is attending classes at Boise State now.

Gabby, who finished second at state last year, needs to win this year to stay on pace with her sister. Lewiston's Amy Hasenoehrl is the defending champion.

"My sister won it two years back to back," Barker said, "so that's what I want to try to do this year and next year."

She certainly has the game for it.

Earlier this season, Barker shot a 6-under-par 65 from the blue tees at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle - a course record for the blues, set on a cold, windy day.

More remarkably, she shot a 7-under 29 on the water-lined back nine. Her tee shot on the par-3 14th hole hit the flagstick and stopped less than a foot from the hole and she chipped in for eagle on the par-4 17th. She could have shot 28, but her tee shot on the par-5 18th bounced into the water and she had to settle for a par.

Barker already has committed to play college golf at Texas Tech.

"My short game has gotten a lot better this year," she said. "Last year, I wasn't making any putts. This year, they're just starting to fall."

She learned the game alongside her dad and sister about 10 years ago. Dwight taught himself and his girls by reading golf books - and he still is Gabby's coach.

"I probably know both of their games better than they do," Dwight said of his daughters. "It's a pretty easy fix for each of them."

Gabby was able to hang with her older sister at a young age, which hinted at her potential. She's 5-foot-11 and athletic - playing setter on Vallivue's district championship volleyball team last fall.

Volleyball gives her a bit of a break from the links, but golf is her preferred sport.

"When I was little, I didn't really like golf. I was more into basketball and soccer," she said. "I started to love it and now this is all I do. … You have to depend on yourself instead of a whole team."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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