By Toni Stauffer
Lakewood Golf Course in Phenix City has a new manager. Mike Barber, 49, is originally from Newcastle, Ind., where he attended New Castle Chrysler High School. He graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
After college, he moved to Alabama in 1993 to work as an assistant golf professional for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Tournament at the Oxmoor Valley golf course in Birmingham. From there, he went to Dothan and worked the RTJ golf tournament there as its director of golf. He worked for the Billy Casper golf course management company where he managed a large country club in Brewton. He also worked as a consultant and is a member of the Professional Golfers Association, but he said he is a golf professional, not a professional golfer.
“Obviously anybody who is in the golf business got into the golf business because they love the game of golf,” Barber said. “Some of us got tired of playing golf and wanted to do more.” Barber said he chose to go into corporate golf.
“I like being around all the aspects of golf. I like being around the business side of golf, the playing, and the instruction,” Barber said. He has taught quite a bit of junior golf and said he enjoys seeing people get better. “I also like meeting and talking to folks every day,” he added.
Barber enjoys the challenges of running a golf course and said that it’s a science.
“When you can get a facility to where people enjoy coming out and playing at it, it’s very satisfying,” Barber said.
Lakewood was without a manager for six months, and Barber said the thatch is a bit thick but they are working on thinning it. He’s still in the process of evaluating the course, but says he and his team are addressing the turf conditions, the greens.
As far as the inside operations go, Barber said they are really in tune to the changes that Parks and Recreation and the city want as far as consistency.
“When you treat everyone good and the same, things start to fall into place. Turf conditions and consistency, that’s what we’re doing out here right now,” Barber said. “I would like everyone in the community who plays golf and has played out here before to know that we’re working really hard to make the golf course more enjoyable to play through better playing conditions and better customer service.”
Barber is married to his wife Kathleen, a banker, have been married for about 15 years. They are parents to three children, two girls and a boy. Their oldest daughter is 21 and a sophomore at Auburn University, studying genetic counseling.
Lakewood Golf Course, located at 2800 Lakewood Drive in Phenix City, is an 18-hold course with tees for all skills, a practice facility with target greens, and has an area for chipping and pitching, as well as bunker play. A separate putting course is also provided. The clubhouse offers a fully-stocked shop, as well as a grill area, and is available for parties and special events.
The approaches, collars, fairways, and tees are all Tiftway 419 Bermuda and the greens are Champion Bermuda. The course is open from 8 a.m. to dark, ET, Monday – Sunday with the practice facility closing one hour prior to sunset. The golf shop closes at 5:30 p.m. and the grill closes at 6 p.m. For more information, call 334-291-4726.