Deep Barrington team settles in among area elite

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BARRINGTON — Burke Barsamian loves to play golf. He also loves to ride four-wheelers. Last spring, one love cost him time with the other.

In April, Barsamian, a Barrington golfer, was riding around in his Barrington Hills backyard on a four-wheeler with Broncos teammate Joey Batliner. It was cold, dark and damp.

“I went around a turn and flipped [over],” Barsamian said. “I was lucky I was wearing a helmet.”

Not so lucky was Barsamian’s right hand, which broke as a result of the accident. On the eve of the spring and summer junior golf season, Barsamian was told he could not swing a club for almost two months.

“It was brutal,” he said.

He was left with two choices. Retreat from the game or embrace his circumstances. He chose the latter. Barsamian tagged along as Batliner and other Broncos teammates played practice rounds or in spring tournaments. For the first time in his life, he watched and observed without a stake in the outcome.

When he returned to competitive play in June, he was a changed person and player. At an Illinois Junior Golf Association sectional qualifier at Lake Forest’s Deerpath Golf Course on June 10, he shot a 78. Two days later, at an Illinois State Junior Amateur qualifier at Pine Meadow in Mundelein, he fired another 78.

A long hitter off the tee with a repeatable, consistent swing, Barsamian’s layoff didn’t diminish his strengths. He felt a difference not with his body, but his mind.

“I used to be way too focused on my game and my score. I was putting way too much pressure on myself,” Barsamian said. After the injury “I was more relaxed, having more fun.”

As the junior circuit rolled into the high school season, Batliner noticed a change in his friend and teammate.

“He’s always been a little quiet. Since the mishap, he’s gotten a lot more confident in his game,” said Batliner, a senior who qualified for the 2013 state tournament as an individual. “He’ll have a bogey and come back with a birdie rather than a double bogey.”

Barsamian is one member of a strong 2014 Barrington team. On Monday, Barrington won the 13-team Ivanhoe Classic, finishing with a cumulative score of 307. Four Broncos shot rounds in the top 10. Senior Kevin Altenberger and junior Cole Kempinski each carded a tournament-best 76, while sophomore Tim Lim shot a 77. Barsamian’s 78 was a few strokes above his season average of 75.5.

The result came on the heels of the Broncos’ weekend championship at the 40-team Mattoon Invitational. Five players from the two-day tournament earned top-10 medals.

“I’m just really fortunate to have this group of guys. They are an extremely talented group,” coach Mike Kallenbach said. “They’d rather be on the golf course than anywhere else. They live to compete.”

No one ever doubted Barsamian’s desire to compete. Now, he’s having more fun playing golf than ever before.

“I’m enjoying other people’s company more. We have a good group,” Barsamian said.

As for the four-wheeler?

“It’s in the garage,” he said.

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