After moving from Oklahoma last summer and enrolling at Blue Springs South High School, Kyle Barbee found it a bit challenging to keep himself sharp before high school golf competition began in the spring.
Barbee was born in Kansas City before his family moved when he was a toddler, but his father’s work transfer brought him back to the metro region after 15 years.
“We practiced in the fall, and then in the spring we had tournaments,” Barbee said of playing in Oklahoma. “We were able to practice in December and January, which you can’t really do here.
“The biggest adjustment was keeping myself dedicated in the fall, when I didn’t have anybody pushing me in practice.”
Barbee certainly kept his game in good repair, finishing his junior season with the medalist round at the Suburban Big Six Championships and an individual berth in the Class 4 state tournament, where he tied for 19th place with a two-round total of 162. He is The Examiner’s Boys Golf Player of the Year.
“It was a great season; I played consistent golf, which was nice,” Barbee said. “I’m still really excited about (being) conference champion, and I’m glad I could represent South at state.”
South coach Ted Linke said his first glimpse of Barbee on the course came during the girls golf season in the fall when the junior was practicing at Lakewood Oaks Golf Club.
“He was trying to work on the shape of his shot,” Linke said. “That’s a fine detail at that age.
“He started off the year great. He and Ryan Drake kind of battled it out for the top spot all year, and Kyle always seemed to beat him by one or two strokes.”
Even before last fall, Linke said, he knew Barbee would be a good player to coach after he visited South during the last week of the previous school year.
“His mom dropped him off during planning hour, and I took him around to meet people,” Linke recalled. “He wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to walk across the ‘S’ (printed on the floor) in the commons, that it might be disrespectful. That really said a lot to me about his character, and I didn’t know how good a golfer he was.”
After having a season to watch him, Linke said Barbee’s course management is impressive.
“He goes through a course knowing his limitations and doesn’t take a lot of risks,” Linke said. “He knows if he hits a bad shot he has to get his par a different way.
“He can hit the ball a ways, but he doesn’t try to overpower a course.”
Barbee said his putting has been the strongest and most consistent part of his game.
“It saved me a lot during school season,” he said. “I had to make putts from 5 or 10 feet out to save par or keep a good round going.”
With his senior season still to come, Barbee is looking forward to having a year of familiarity with area courses under his belt, not to mention having South classmates and fellow all-area players Drake, Jack Steinbeck and Bryan Hanneman returning.
“I’m really wanting to lower my scores and better my game,” he said. “I’m willing to compete with the best players in Missouri.
“It’s great having four of five players coming back next year. It will be interesting to see how we play in the postseason – if we can make it to state.”