March 28, 2012

PHS Alum Barry Making Golf Into a Career, Running Junior Program at Mercer Academy

HANDS-ON TEACHING: Jason Barry, left, helps student Evan McGrain, a member of Rider University golf program, with his putting form. Barry, a 2006 Princeton High alum and former Little Tiger golf star, has made the sport his career. He works full-time for Mercer County Golf Academy where he is now the Director of Junior Golf. In addition, he has obtained Level 1 certification from the PGA teaching professional program and is working on getting Class A status.

During his days as a star player a few years back for the Princeton High boys’ golf team, Jason Barry realized that he had a knack for teaching the game.

“If one of my teammates was struggling with something, I could watch him and help him out,” said Barry, a 2006 PHS alum who helped the Little Tigers win two Mercer County Tournament team titles during his high school career.

Shortly after graduating from PHS, Barry decided to make teaching golf his career.

“I played for a season at Bucks County Community College and I realized I was starting to like teaching more than playing,” recalled Barry.

“I had started working at the Pennington Golf Center after high school, running junior camps. I really enjoyed teaching and watching kids get better.”

In 2008, Barry started working full-time at the Mercer County Golf Academy where he is now the Director of Junior Golf.

Now, he is immersed in running junior programs and camps as he passes on his love of the game and hones his skills as a teacher. The academy offers a Futurestars Golf for players ages 6-12 and Tournament Training for players 13 and older. In addition, there are week-long camps during from April 2-6 and April 9-13 and throughout the summer.

The academy staff also includes Director of Golf Bob Corbo, together with teaching professionals Pete Palmisano, Mike Michaelides, Chris Miyahara, and Shareen Lai.

“The pre-tournament program introduces the game to kids, stressing fundamentals like the grip and set-up,” explained Barry, noting the ongoing programs take place at the Princeton Country Club (PCC) on Wheeler Way, which includes a state-of the-art indoor facility.

“We teach the basics of the game. The tournament program is for kids who have been playing for a while and have played in tournaments or looking to start in tournaments. We cover situations they can encounter in competition. It is the road to the college game. We have Division I coaches on staff and we can get the kids in front of college coaches.”

The week-long camps provide more in-depth training and game analysis.

“We have them play 18 holes in the morning; we do critiques at lunch and then do drills in the afternoon,” added Barry, referring to the camps which take place at PCC, Mountain View, and the Mercer Oaks courses.

“The mental stuff is really huge, we teach them to commit to a target and stick to routine so you don’t talk yourself into a bad shot. I put them in the woods, I put them in a bunker so they won’t fall apart if they run into those things.”

Barry developed an early commitment to golf. “I started playing when I was 7; my uncle taught me the game,” recalled Barry, who took up the game in Northern California and came east when he was in fifth grade.

“When I was 8 years old, my mom would drop me off at the course in the summer and I would stay from 7 in the morning until 7 at night. It was hard to pull me away. I was absolutely addicted to the game; I was just fascinated with it.”

During his PHS career, Barry found a group of fellow golf addicts. “It was awesome; we had 10 or 11 guys who could break 40,” said Barry, whose Little Tiger teammates included Jordan Gibbs, Mike DiMeglio, Peter Teifer, Kyle Rasavage, and Greg Heisen, a group that helped PHS go 56-2 in dual match play over Barry’s final three seasons with the program.

“It was great to have that much talent at the same time. We had a lot of fun. We were good friends; we hung out on the weekends and competed against each other.”

Making golf a career has certainly been fun for Barry. “I want to do this the rest of my life; I want to go on the PGA tour and be one of the best teachers out there,” asserted Barry, who has obtained Level 1 certification from the PGA teaching professional program and is working on getting Class A status.

“I like teaching kids with a good work ethic and will to succeed and then seeing the results. Butch Harmon is my idol; he talks a lot about keeping it simple. I try to soak up things from the big names.”