Recent Barry grads appear on Latinoamerica tour

Willy Pumarol is among five recent Barry University graduates playing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica this year.

Despite winning a national championship in 2007 and sending five players to the pro ranks in the past three years, Barry University's golf team might not be among the most familiar in the college game. Why? It’s a Division II program.

Barry, a Catholic university of 9,300 students located in Miami Shores, Fla., may not seem like a place that breeds professional golfers, but head coach Jimmy Stobs has worked hard during the past 12 years to change the nature of his golf team.

“He coaches us to the extreme,” 2011 graduate and current PGA Tour Latinoamerica player Willy Pumarol said. “If you want to learn, that’s the place to learn. He teaches you everything.”

Stobs’ method does not include tinkering with golf swings, however. He focuses instead on having his players trust their ability and find their own unique way to play. He has plenty of confidence in his players, allowing them to make their own decisions on the course.

“I know that if I’ve done my job preparing them mentally, everything will be all right and they will play to their potential,” Stobs said.

This method has worked very well, creating a strong record at Barry. Pumarol, Carlos Velez, Daniel Stapff, Sebastian Pinzon and J.C. Perello are exempt on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. This year marks the tour’s inaugural season, which runs from June to December and includes 11 events in seven countries with purses maxing out at $150,000. The tour serves as a gateway for players looking to make the Web.com Tour, with the top five on the Order of Merit earning a card on the Web.com.

The current Barry team is playing well, too. The Buccaneers have posted a victory and two runner-up finishes in three tournaments, with two individual medalists.

“I stress to them the quote from Pat Riley, ‘Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but without it you’ve got no chance,’” Stobs said. “I challenge them every day to become better players.”

They take the quote to heart, working on their games at six courses around the Miami area, including Miami Shores Country Club and Normandy Shores Golf Club.

Though the success of the team lies in the hands of the players, the program really revolves around Stobs and his dedication.

“He puts his heart into his team,” Pumarol said. “He treats us as if we are his sons.”

Stobs’ devotion to his players starts with his own story. He played for Georgia Southern from his freshman to junior years and then transferred to Florida Atlantic for his senior year. Though he “wasn’t very good in college,” he concedes, he turned pro after graduating and jumped from mini tour to mini tour for 10 years before settling at Barry.

His focus these days is not on his game, but rather on making sure his players have everything they need to become successful professional golfers. Barry might not carry a name or history of a Stanford or Oklahoma State, but Stobs says his program provides everything a player needs to get to the next level.

“When you turn pro, nobody asks where you went to school,” said Stobs. “If someone at a smaller school or division has played at a high level in many tournaments for a coach that knows something about golf and works hard, he is going to be far ahead of the guy that has gone to a big-time program and sat on the bench.”

For all the talk of making it as a professional, Barry golfers also put a solid emphasis on their academics and understand the title of student-athlete. Barry has produced 13 GCAA All-Americans and nine GCAA Scholar All-Americans in program history. Barry has won 16 team titles in the past decade.

It seems Stobs and his Buccaneers are working hard to swing the spotlight onto Barry.

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