Don’t let the ‘Swing Like A Girl’ golf shirt fool you. Mackenzie Barrie can, and does, play with the best boys in town.
A two-sport star, Barrie chose the links over hockey and has earned a scholarship with the NCAA Division 1 University of Wyoming Cowgirls in Laramie.
“I loved both sports, but with golf, there’s more possibility down the road,” said Barrie, a 5-foot-8 Seaton honour roll grad. “With hockey, especially females, your career ends basi- cally right after university. You can play on the Olympic team, but only a select few do, so with golf, I think there are more career possibilities or coaching, if I go that route.”
Barrie is big off the tee and has received prime coaching the last two years. She now regularly e-mails and tweets A.J. Eathorne of Predator Ridge. Eathorne won just over $1 mil- lion in an 11-year LPGA Tour career.
“I switched about a month ago and I really like Sean (Richardson),” said Barrie. “He’s done a lot for my game; it was just time for a switch and I’d like to thank him for all the stuff that he’s done for me. I switched to A.J. Eathorne up at Predator Ridge and she’s done a lot for my game, not only with the swing, the mental side. She has so much knowledge about the game because she’s being around it so long.”
Eathorne, a 37-year-old Penticton product, was an All- American with the New Mexico State Aggies, and believes Barrie has the mind-set to succeed in the college game. Barrie often shadowed Eathorne at the Predator academy, where Eathorne runs the popular ‘Swing Like a Girl’ classes.
“She’s a sponge and she’s a hard worker,” said Eathorne. “Like me, she gets frustrated because she wants to be the best. One of her strengths is that she really doesn’t get down on herself. Maybe that comes from her hockey background because she realizes the game never stops.
“It’s tough to battle the ups and downs, but she will work hard and things will pay off. She has the skills and confidence and she’s a strong girl; she just has to believe.”
Eathorne, who was actually fired by PGA Tour player Kris Blanks for being too positive as a caddy (she later carried the bag for LPGA superstar Brittany Lincicome of Florida), gets props from Barrie for her upbeat nature.
“The one thing with her is that she’s always positive,” said Barrie, named Athlete of the Year and Top All-Round Student in Grade 12. “She never really gets too down on herself and that’s something I’ve really picked up from her and I’m getting a lot better at it too so that’s been huge.”
Besides learning to put trash shots behind her, Barrie has also spent several hours with Eathorne on the short game which brings the low scores at any level.
Barrie played a hectic summer tournament schedule in between countless practice rounds with male buddies at the Vernon Golf & Country Club. She was 12th in the B.C. Junior.
“I had some good finishes: 30th at Canadians. It was a bit up and down. It was a very, very difficult course and I kind of learned a lot about myself that week, how to play on those more challenging courses. It was kind of a U.S. Open style where pars are good, birdies are gonna be very rare and bogies are gonna happen. So, it’s definitely a mental grind out there.”
Wyoming is a huge, typical American sports school which Barrie found attractive. “A.J. had the same feeling about New Mexico. I talked to a couple of other schools. I chose Wyoming because I really like the coach (Josey Stender). She’s great. As soon as I got there, I knew it was the place to be. It’s a great school and the whole atmosphere around the school is fantastic. It’s all about sports so that’s kind of why I chose there.”
Stender, in her ninth season at Wyoming, loves Barrie’s athleticism.
“We are very happy with the quality of athlete and student that we are getting with Mackenzie,” said Stender. “She played hockey most of her life and is fairly new to the national golf scene, but has made an impact in just a few summers. That’s a good indicator that her athleticism will help her transition to the collegiate game.
“She hits it long and that is something you can’t teach, so that will be a big advantage for her. She has a great tempera- ment about herself and keeps the game in perspective, which can be attributed to her great background in sports. She is very goal oriented and knows what she wants, but is also very coachable.”
Barrie will study kinesiology and joins Wyoming com- peting in the Mountain West Conference, which includes Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State and UNLV (Las Vegas).
Barrie and Kristen Jensen of Alberta are the lone Canadians on the Cowgirls’ nine-lady roster. Barrie is rooming with track and field athlete Danielle Alexander of Cheyenne, Wy.
Wyoming is in the UNM Dick McGuire Invitational, Sept. 20-21 in Albuquerque, N.M.