Lake Central senior Rhett Barker can’t remember a time in his youth when he wasn’t playing golf, having taken up the sport at an early age.
“Since I could walk, really,” he said. “My grandpa taught me the game, and I just kind of stuck with it.”
He also played a lot of baseball, but by his freshman year, golf won out and he tried out and made the Lake Central team.
“It’s stuck with me, and it’s worked out pretty well,” he said.
Of course, Barker never stopped playing regularly in those formative years, in part, to the encouragement of his grandfather, Bob Fitzsimmons, and he’s capping off his high school career with a strong season.
He tied for medalist honors with a 72 at the L.C. Invite a couple weeks ago, as the Indians won their own tournament for the first time in six years. Barker also helped the Indians win the Duneland Athletic Conference meet with a 75 as the team shot a season’s best 397 last week.
“We’re looking to go to state as a team, and we just might do it,” Barker said. “We’ve got to get through sectionals and the regional is down in Lafayette, which is always tough. But I think this is the year to do it.”
L.C. begins its quest Friday morning as it hosts a sectional at Palmira Golf Club, and the top three teams qualify for the Lafayette Regional on June 12.
Chris Rossiano took over as L.C.‘s head coach in Barker’s sophomore year, his first season on the varsity. He’s watched him progress well as a player.
“He’s got a real good mechanical swing,” Rossiano said. “He hits the ball fairly long. He knows where his putter is at, and he’s fairly good with that.”
Rossiano said Barker has everything a player needs to play a good round of competitive golf.
“He’s got all the tools you need to be a great player,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when he puts it all together.”
The Indians have also developed a good team chemistry among Barker, Matt Meneghetti, Kyle Theil, Ryan Dahlkamp and Nick Good to fuel the charge.
“It’s a weird sport because it’s an individual sport, but in high school, it’s a team,” Rossiano said. “You do have that individual competitive nature, but they want to get down to state as a team, not as individuals. And they want everyone to do good as a team.
“They’ve spent every day together so they’ve become, obviously, friends and they’re always looking out for each other and helping each other out.”