Donald E. Barber, Life Member of the PGA, was the Professional who long ago introduced me to all facets of the Game & the Business of Golf. He served as First Assistant to the legendary Faust Bianco at Dearborn CC, then was Head Professional at Indianwood G&CC in Lake Orion MI, then Feather Sound CC in Clearwater, FL, then finally Indian Hills CC in Bowling Green, KY, where he retired a few years ago. I began in his caddy program at Indianwood, moved to his Golf Shop the next year, and followed him down to Florida immediately upon graduating High School. Working for Don, watching him go about his business, his passion, and his life, and being treated like family in the process, gave me many memories. Too many to write here. It’d take books. Some educational, some tremendously fun.
Don (I always called him “Mr. Barber”) was the consummate Head Professional. He greatly enjoyed the Game, and the work of helping others enjoy the Game too. He taught me everything imaginable… from equipment, to rules, and history… how to play, how to teach, how to work. Most of all, he taught me, mostly with just pure example, how to be a gentleman. Lessons from him, in any arena, were a lifetime’s treasure.
Don’s son Ed was a few years younger than me… Don would send the two of us out to play on rainy days… a treat for shop assistants who lived for the chance to tee it up. When the rain would stop, Don would usually find himself out on the course watching the two of us toting our golf bags up and down the hills of that magnificent Wilfred Reid design. When the “Head Pro” appeared, it was like being on the TV camera holes at Augusta. His “after-action” analysis would be eagerly listened to, and filed away. “Never add up your scorecard until the round is over, David” was my favorite.
Don struggled hard against a brutal disease, Lymphoma Luekemia, for nearly a decade. He faced his fate very bravely, and struggled to stay with his loving wife Geri, and his beloved children. Don went to be with the Creator today. I’m sure it’s a lot more fun there now because he is there. We’ll miss him dearly, those of us who were lucky enough to know him well. Rest in Peace, Mr. Barber. I’d be honored to sign your scorecard.