Let the report card on Tina Barrett read: Shows continual improvement. Outstanding attitude. Receptive to instruction. Impressive under pressure. Powers of concentration are exceptional. Ready to emerge as a dominant name on the leader board.
At the end of her fourth year of playing the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, Barrett's average score per round dropped to 72.37 and the yearly prize money she earned for 1992 increased to $184,719, so everything is positive.
The 26-year-old from Perry Hall High and Longwood College advanced from 32nd on the money list to 28th. Another plus. Even more significant is that three times this past tournament season, she shot rounds of 66, which mark her best competitive score as a LPGA member.
"It seems as if I'm heading in the right direction," she says. "I'm a totally different player now in all phases than when I started. My short game is more consistent. The players coming on the tour are better and better, but I've gotten better, too. I continue to work closely with DeDe Owens, a wonderful teacher who is at the Cog Hill club in Illinois."
What area of the swing has been scrutinized and revised? "Just trying to eliminate a lot of movement," she says. "The more unnecessary moves you make means there's catching up to do as you come into the ball. DeDe wants me to simplify things. She has been such a tremendous help."
Barrett plays Ping irons, Callaway woods and has endorsement deals with Nike footwear and the Maxfli ball. She also has a sponsorship arrangement with two businessmen from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of Pennsylvania, namely Dennis Corvoi and Angelo Guzzi, and says it has made for a good working relationship.
Just last weekend, in a strong lineup of 42 players, Tina won a 54-hole Mitsubishi Pro-Am in Phoenix by two shots for a purse of $25,000. About golf and the fickle game it is, she puts it all so succinctly: "The sport is the greatest there is when you're playing well and the worst of them all when you're not playing well."
Amen. There's not a golfer alive willing to offer a word of rebuttal to that observation.
Two more stops remain on the current LPGA calendar but neither event is to be included in the official standings, including the mixed team match in Tarpon Springs, Fla., where she'll be playing with fellow Marylander Fred Funk.
Barrett can do much more than read yardage signs or a pairing sheet. She came to the tour after a brilliant record as a student, graduating cum laude with a business degree in 1988 from Longwood, where three times her grades qualified for the Academic All-America and on five occasions gained a place on the dean's list.
She's quick to point out that her Baltimore roots, where she had the opportunity to be instructed by professionals Norman Vacovsky at Sparrows Point Country Club and then John Albert at Hunt Valley, provided a strong foundation. Golf gave entree to a college scholarship, which took her to a higher level of competition. At Longwood, she became a four-time Division II All-America selection.
If it came to thinking a ball around a golf course, Barrett would be at the top of the scoreboard every week. "She's a smart player with a natural swing and has all the shots," says Vacovsky. "What I quickly recognized in her was something you are born with. That's handling pressure. The way she adapted and made the transition to professional golf at its highest level of play is worthy of great respect. Think of the thousands who try and come up short."
It was Vacovsky who held a fund-raising banquet at Sparrows Point in 1988 that provided her with the financial chance to try the tour. He also tried to convince potential sponsors to pick up the bills but that didn't happen at the outset and she ventured to the uncertain world of tour golf on nerve and trust in her swing.
"I just knew in my heart she deserved the chance," he insisted. "With her kind of ability and intensity, I was confident she'd do well, which she has done. I wouldn't attempt to take credit for the good things that have since happened to her because golf isn't a team game. She has done it all in a rather remarkable way."
Barrett has won only once, while still a rookie, at the Ocean State Open in Cranston, R.I. "At that time, it meant a lot," she remembered. "But, gee, now it seems such a long time ago when you consider all the tournaments I've played since then."
Her confidence range has climbed. For Tina Barrett, this is only the beginning. The best is yet to come.
Barrett's pro record
2Year .. .. .. Score .. .. .. Earn. .. .. .. Stdg
1989 .. .. .. 74.69 .. .. .. $39,776 .. .. .. 69
1990 .. .. .. 74.81 .. .. .. $17,867 .. .. .. 121
1991 .. .. .. 72.86 .. .. .. $138,232 .. .. .. 32
1992 .. .. .. 72.37 .. .. .. $184,719 .. .. .. 28