You will find many stories about the Barbasol Tournament being an “alternative to the British Open” but I don’t see it that way at all. I see the Barbasol as my “must watch” tournament just as the Masters is. As a Junior Golfer, it is my dream, my goal Tournament. Let me tell you why….
I remember watching the Barbasol on TV in it’s inaugural year in 2015. My first thoughts were that it’s close to me in Auburn, AL, it’s new to the circuit and it has a good mix of new and experienced golfers. To me, that is a tournament that I want to see, in person, as well as aspire to play in some day. As a Junior Golfer, it’s obtainable. The British Open is a Dream that is unfathomable.
Sure, all the big names can be watched in the British Open and it is definitely worth viewing but what would you give to watch a young Tiger, Jordan or Bryson just as they were starting out? There is pressure at the Barbasol but it is shown differently than say at the British Open where the entire world is watching.
To be able to watch a generation ahead of me, in person, at a golf tournament fighting for their chance at victory against seasoned pros who aren’t going to ease up is what I call an awesome showdown. It definitely is a tournament to see close up.
I cover a lot of golf and fly fishing events as a Junior reporter. None of the golf events affects me as much as the Barbasol does. This year, I wanted to report on it solely from a Junior Golfer perspective and while Junior Golfers need to take this tournament more seriously. In a nutshell, the Barbasol is your Tournament. It’s your entry into the PGA. Here’s why:
A lot of rookies enter the Barbasol along with seasoned pros. Watch how they interact. Look at the differences in their swings, chips, putts. Has Golf changed between the years? As a Junior Golfer, I was fascinated to watch all the golfers interact and their techniques.
Watch the Pros that have been struggling and have had droughts. Learn from the way they handled themselves on the fairways and greens. Celebrate their victories.
Appreciate the seasoned Pros who have so much more knowledge on course management than Junior Golfers do. Try to figure out what they are thinking and learn from their club choices.
The 2015 Inaugural Winner, Scott Piercy, ended a three year drought when he won the Barbasol.
The 2016 Winner, Aaron Baddeley, did not have sponsors coming into the tournament. He came in with determination, skill and talent. After winning, he gained a sponsor and an invitation to the PGA Open. He will not be defending his Barbasol Title because he secured a berth in the British Open. He had a 5 1/2 year dry spell. It ended after his win at the Barbasol. I might add that he also stayed in his RV during the tournament at the same campground that we parked our Airstream.
Guess who won the 2017 Barbasol? Rookie Grayson Murray, age 23, from Raleigh, North Carolina. Someone who was a Junior Golfer not that long ago!
For Pro Golfers, the Barbasol is one of the last tournaments to pick up crucial FedEx points. Winning the Barbasol will not get you an invitation into the Masters but it will get you an invitation to the U.S. PGA Championship (btw, Win the U.S. PGA Championship and you will get invited to the Masters and the U.S.Open and the Open Championship).
The course… It has been said that it is RTJ’s favorite. Twelve of the eighteen holes are around the Lake. The par value is 71. The Grand National is just about one of the sweetest and most fair golf courses you could ever wish to play on and it’s open to the public.
As a Junior Golfer, do yourself a favor and attend. You will be amazed at how much you learn from the players in this tournament. You will be inspired just as I am to practice a little more, aim a little higher and maybe think twice before putting.
Here’s my perspective….
So, in 2016, my Dad and I played the same course that the Barbasol is played on: The Robert Trent Jones Grand National Lakes Course (we also played the more challenging Links course). We plan on making it a yearly tradition for us to play this course. We battle it out to the end. Seasoned Pro vs Rookie. Every time, I pass the “Home of the Barbasol” sign, I smile and think of the future and say to myself, “Yep, I’m coming for you Barbasol, one day, I’m coming for you.”