Lake City native Blayne Barber will head back onto the green after announcing his retirement from professional golf in August 2022.
Barber, 33, shot with the world’s greatest on the PGA Tour four years in a row, from 2014 to 2018, and has played professionally since 2012. He earned his first top five finish at the Honda Classic in 2015.
Over the past several seasons, he lost his playing privileges on the tour and has rounded the circuits of the lower Korn Ferry Tour, like minor league baseball, Barber explains.
“I think really the last four seasons have just been foundational,” Barber said in a phone interview. “Even though I haven’t really had a ton of success to hang my hat on, a lot of things have been clarified in my mind, and I’ve started to understand myself and my game better.”
But he’s decided to return and prove he can compete with the best.
Barber and his wife Morgan have four kids, and he said his stage in life and the state of his golf play influenced the decision to step back. The schedule has a large impact on family life, Barber said, with weeklong absences.
As he hits the road again to play, Barber said the family is still learning how to make it work. He said the family thrives when everyone is together, and they make it work when he’s gone. The tough schedule was a main factor in stepping away last year, he said, and remains the toughest part as he returns.
“In the process of the last five or six months and conversations and situations and details shifting around, I’ve decided to continue doing it right now because that’s where I feel like God has us, and I want to continue to try to excel,” Barber said. “So, I thought I was done. But I’m continuing to go.”
To play another PGA Tour, Barber will need to earn a spot with good finishes on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour. The tour will include 26 events this year.
He calls golf a meritocracy—the better you play, the more tournament invitations you receive and the closer you move to the PGA Tour. But poor performances also send golfers the other direction.
“A big motivating factor for me to want to play on the PGA Tour again is because I do feel like I’m in such a different mindset and place in my heart with some of the things I took for granted,” Barber said.
Besides understanding his game better, Barber said he’s returning with a new view on golf.
In the past, especially early in his career, he said golf stood as an idol in his life. Now, the sport sits in a lower place.
“I think one thing that golf has been most of my career is an idol that I’ve put a lot of my satisfaction and worth in,” Barber said. “And when something’s an idol, if you get what you want, it’s going to leave you empty, and if you don’t get what you want, it’s going to crush you.”
Barber added that God knew golf is what he needed in life to be sanctified. He said the sports fights against his desire to be perfect, put together and with a linear growth pattern.
“Golf is such an ‘S’ curve—up and down and all over the place,” Barber said.
Barber started playing golf along with soccer and baseball. He played his first golf tournament at 8 years old and decided to drop other sports at 12 years old once seasons started conflicting.
Barber and his three brothers were homeschooled but played sports for Columbia High School. The homeschool schedule allowed him to knock out schoolwork ahead of a tournament or on the road.
“I made it all the way to the PGA Tour, which was my ambition as a young kid, and the whole way through, I never felt like I knew it was gonna happen,” Barber said. “I kept seeing growth and progress, and I put the work in, and I kept setting new goals and having bigger aspirations.”
He passed up big SEC schools to enter the University of Central Florida (UCF) his freshman year—in large part because of Nick Clinard, UCF’s golf coach. The next year, Clinard took a job with Auburn University, and he brought Barber with him.
Barber earned the Auburn program record for lowest career stroke average with 70.83. He’s received All-American first team honors and finished his senior season ranked seventh in the nation, according to Golfweek.
Barber serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Auburn women’s golf team and lives in Auburn.
Congratulations, May God continue to Bless You on this journey. ❤️🙏🏽