BELGRADE LAKES — Having played in the Maine State Golf Association Amateur Championship since 2010, Brent Barker of Bar Harbor came into this year’s edition of the tournament with a new goal in mind.
Going into the first day of play last Tuesday, the Mount Desert Island High School varsity girls’ basketball coach and junior varsity baseball coach wanted to finish inside the top 20. He hadn’t been too far off in the past, and with a strong first two rounds this time, he was able to do just that.
Barker recorded his best-ever finish at the 99th Maine Amateur last week at Belgrade Lakes Golf Course. He shot 224 over the three-day tournament to finish 11 strokes over par to finish near the top of the 132-person field.
“I’ve had several years of experience doing this now, and I wanted to take a big step forward this year,” Barker said. “I felt good out there from the opening tee, and I thought I put together a really good few rounds of golf.”
A four-over 75 the first day of play gave Barker a strong start to the tournament, but the 41-year-old was just getting started. In the second round, he made two birdies in the first three holes and five overall to finish even on the day.
Those efforts gave Barker a total of 146 after two days, which easily made the top-40 cut. Even after shooting 78 on the final day last Thursday, Barker’s score was still good enough to tie for 14th place.
“My biggest focus was keeping the ball in play, and I definitely thought I did a good job of that,” Barker said. “Some of the holes on the back nine the last day didn’t go quite the way I wanted them to, but I was very pleased with how I did in the end.”
Barker, who has been playing golf since he was 8 years old, spent four seasons on MDI’s varsity team from 1991-94. He then played the sport at both Northern Maine Community College and the University of Maine at Farmington. After college, he continued to play at the amateur level.
This year’s score marked a five-stroke improvement over Barker’s 2017 Maine Amateur tally of 229 at Brunswick Golf Club. Since he first began playing in the tournament nearly a decade ago, Barker has represented Bar Harbor’s Kebo Valley Club, which he calls his favorite place to play.
“There’s a bunch of places I really enjoy, but you can’t beat playing at Kebo,” Barker said. “It’s a great course from start to finish, and I always really enjoy myself there.”
Barker will be back on the golf course this weekend for the first round of Kebo’s Men’s Club Championship. He is the tournament’s two-time defending champion and hopes to hoist the silver trophy yet again when play concludes July 29.
“I’m going to get in as much practice as I can before then,” Barker said. “When the weather’s this good in this state, you’ve got to get in as much golf as you can.”