Philip Barbaree Junior, or PBJ for short, has a gift for golf.
“I probably spend three to four hours a day, six or seven days a week playing golf,” said Barbaree Jr.
The rising senior at Byrd High School just turned 18 years old and he’s the number one ranked junior amateur in the world.
Philip may be young, but his trophy collection is experienced.
Plaques, trophies and crystal from all of the country fill Philip’s room from wall-to-wall.
He began playing golf when he was 7 years old.
“My Dad is a huge influence in my life with golf. He got me started when I was seven years old,” said Barbaree Jr. “My Mom and Dad are a huge motivator for me. They’ve been so supportive of everything I do and allow me to travel and play in all these tournaments."
Golf came naturally to Philip. He hit his first hole-in-one at the age of nine.
“I have eight hole-in-ones for my career,” said Barbaree Jr.
To be fair, Philip’s house is located just off the 10th hole of Southern Trace golf course in Shreveport. However, some people go their entire lives without ever making arguably the hardest shot in golf. His secret?
“I don’t think there is a secret. I think obviously a little bit of hard work, but then some fortunate luck too,” he said laughing.
Philip makes his own luck, through preparation and opportunity. He’s had the opportunity to meet pro golfers like Tiger Woods.
“At the junior invitational at Sage Valley this year, it’s probably one of the biggest junior tournaments in the country and we were surprised this year by Tiger,” said Barbaree Jr. “That was unbelievable. We got to ask him questions and hit balls with him and it was unreal getting to hear about what he’s been through."
Meeting pro golfers is a cool experience, but Philip’s gotten to the point in his young career where now he gets to play alongside the pros he grew up idolizing.
“Pretty cool to look at this and know I played a PGA tour event which is ultimately my dream,” said Barbaree Jr.
Philip recently made his PGA tour debut, as an amateur, at the FedEx Saint Jude Classic in Memphis Tennessee.
He shot six-over par and missed the 36-hole put, but knows it’s not about how he finished in his first-ever PGA event.
“It’s really just cool to have that experience and just knowing that I can compete with the some of the best out there, it was a really great experience,” he said.
PBJ is coming off the best year of golf in his life.
In 2015, he won the AJGA Rolex Tournament of champions, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur
“If you win the U.S. junior amateur you get a ring so I sometimes where that around,” Barbaree Jr. said referencing his ring.
He won three gold medals from the Spirit International tournament and was also named Rolex Junior player of the year.
“Looking back on it, especially if you’re not playing well at the time, you look back on it and it kind of brings confidence to you really, just to look at the stuff and know that you did it,” said Barbaree Jr.
Casey Martin is Philip's high school golf coach at Byrd. He says he’s never met anyone like Philip Barbaree Jr.
“Great kid, great talent. He makes my job easy,” said Martin. “I usually like to take my kids out on the course and play with them. Philip was the first kid I ever went out with and he wore me out.”
Martin is entering his seventh year coaching high school golf. Byrd has won three straight state championships, in golf.
“He’s probably one of the most talented kids I’ve ever been around,” said Martin. “I’ve learned a lot from him, not just me teaching him, I’ve learned a lot from him."
“Casey’s great, he’s always been very supportive of us and been very helpful in walking us through high school golf and what it takes to win some state championships,” said Barbaree Jr.
Coach Martin says despite all the accolades, it’s Philip’s selflessness that stands out.
“He’s still a team player, no matter what. He’s always thinking about the team, not just himself,” said Martin.
Philip is committed to play his college golf at Louisiana State University.
“We’ve been LSU fans for quite a while. I’ve been going to LSU football games for as long as I can remember,” said Barbaree Jr. “When Sam Burns and Nathan Jeansonne committed to LSU, we’ve been friends for a while and I couldn’t really see myself anywhere else."
While his goals include winning a fourth straight state title at Byrd and succeeding at LSU, Philip says golf has taught him a lot about the big picture in life.
“I try not to be too hard on myself, you know work hard but if something doesn’t go right, then you know there’s a lot bigger things in life then a golf score,” he said.
“I think we’ll be seeing Philip on T.V. one day. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and he’ll be fine,” said Martin.
Barbaree says his ultimate goal is to become a full-time professional golfer.
“I’d like to play full time on the PGA tour and making it one day. Obviously, winning ‘The Masters’ or being a major champion, that’d be the highlight of my golf career. That’s my biggest dream and what I strive for every day,” said Barbaree Jr.
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