Winter 2018

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After finishing second and third the last couple of years, his personal goal in 2017 was to be named NCGA Player of the Year. He's now achieved that. His remaining goal: Play in the Masters as an amateur. "That would require winning the U.S. Mid-Am or finishing top two at the U.S. Amateur," he explains. "I was close last year, I got to the round of 16 and ended up losing to Stewart Hagestad, who won the 2016 Mid-Am. This year I made it to the round of 32." Regardless of how much he practices, don't be sur- prised if you see the pride and joy of Green Valley CC in the field at Augusta. Barker's connection to professional golf is much deeper than her mini-tour adventures back in the 1980s. Her long-time coach is none other than Shirley Spork, one of the original founders of the LPGA Tour. "I still can't believe that I get to spend time with her," Barker says. "I'm so lucky to know her and to be her student, but calling her my friend means more than anything." Barker, who joined Green Valley after successfully navigating the course to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Women's Amateur, has won the club champi- onship four consecutive years. In total she's competed in 13 USGA champi- onships, including the last two U.S. Women's Senior Ams. If you ask her, she'll tell you it's no big deal. "I know girls that have played in 60. So 13 doesn't really seem like that much," she says humbly, in a warm southern accent. She grew up in Marion, Virginia— which she describes as "one hill from West Virginia, one hill from Tennessee and two hills from Kentucky." She moved to California in 1980 after joining the Navy, where she was an air-traffic con- troller. After leaving the military in '85, she first met Spork and began to take golf more seriously, even trying her luck as a playing pro for five years. She would eventually settle back in an as air-traffic con- troller at the Oakland Center in Fremont. Nowadays, a retired Barker, 58, plays a few times a week and is a favorite among the women at Green Valley— where one of her most common playing partners is 1988 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Jamille Hill. Even when she's not playing, Barker is always working on her game. "If I'm not on the range or the chip- ping green, I'm doing drills in my house," she says. "There's always something I'm doing to get better, even if it's just watch- ing the LPGA on TV." Don't let the sweet southern drawl and humble demeanor fool you. Barker plays to win—the four consecutive club championships are evidence of that. NCGA.ORG | WINTER 2018 49 Ashely Shim, The Olympic Club T he Olympic Club is one of the most storied private clubs in the country. Over the club's 157-year existence, the membership has seen just about everything. However, 2017 marked another unforeseen historical moment. At age 13, Ashely Shim won the women's club championship, becoming its youngest titleholder. Three years ago, the club made amend- ments to its bylaws stating that any member, regardless of age, who qualified for a USGA tournament would receive automatic entry into the club championship. Shim qualified for this year's U.S. Girls' Junior and, in the process, reserved her spot in the field at Olympic. "We decided to change the rule because we had a few junior members who were close to winning prestigious national events, and we wanted those high-level players to be eligible to compete in our club champi- onships," says Will Hutter, the club's PGA Director of Golf. "Those players were a few years older than Ashely. We didn't expect a 13-year-old to win a club championship just a few years after we made the rule." Shim exceeded even her own lofty expectations. In the championship, Shim birdied four of the first six holes on the Lake Course and defeated Connie Isler, 33, who competed in this year's U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur, 4 and 3. Shim credited the golf staff at Olympic for its role in her remarkable victory. "When I think about this, it's not just because of me," Shim says. "Every time I go to practice at The Olympic Club, I feel like I'm at home with family." Jason Anthony Ashely Shim

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