Doug Barron may have lost his playing privileges on the PGA Tour, but he has found at least a temporary home: the mini-tours.
Barron, suspended Nov. 2 for one year for violation of the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Policy, returned to competition this week on the Adams Golf Winter Series. Barron struggled to a 4-over 76 at Cypress Lakes Golf Club in Cypress, Texas, where he missed the cut.
Barron would not discuss his suspension in an interview with Golfweek, citing advice of counsel. Neither Barron nor the Tour would disclose which substance Barron had used. However, Barron was emphatic about one point relating to his suspension, the first under the Tour’s drug policy enacted last year.
“I’ve never taken any drug to enhance my performance,” Barron said. “I’m just trying to play golf.”
Representatives from some of the most prominent mini-tours told Golfweek that drug testing would remain the province of the PGA Tour. It’s simply too costly for the NGA Hooters, Gateway, eGolf Professional (formerly Tarheel) and Adams Golf tours, they said.
“We try to keep ourselves in line with the PGA Tour and Nationwide,” said Steve White, vice president of operations for the NGA Hooters Tour. “But drug testing is too expensive.”
None of the mini-tours has a policy regarding drug use or whether they would let a banned player from another tour participate.
“We haven’t even discussed that,” said David Siegel, president and director of the eGolf Tour. “I would have to take it to our player advisory board and look at it on a case-by-case basis.”
Barron contacted Adams Golf Pro Tour Series officials after he had been banned by the PGA and Nationwide tours.
“We don’t have a drug policy,” said Gary DeSerrano, president of the Adams Golf tour, when asked about Barron’s participation. “Pockets aren’t deep enough for us to do something like that. I don’t see any mini-tour not allowing it, and if they did, they would open themselves up to legal action that they don’t want any part of it.”
Barron’s golf life veered down an uncharted path when he provided a urine sample in June at the St. Jude Classic. He received a sponsor’s exemption to his hometown event in Memphis, Tenn. A journeyman, Barron, 40, was playing in his first PGA Tour event in three years. He had four Nationwide Tour starts in 2009, with no cuts made.
Much of Barron’s career has been beset with medical problems. Though it had been reported that he was playing on the Nationwide Tour under a medical exemption, Barron rebuts that, saying he had to Monday-qualify or receive sponsor exemptions this year.
Barron, who graduated from Mississippi State with a marketing degree in 1992, has struggled in recent years. He hasn’t made a cut on the Nationwide Tour since August 2008; his last weekend on the PGA Tour was at Greensboro in 2006, his last full season on Tour.
His future? “I imagine I will go to work,” he said.
When he wasn’t playing golf this year because of his medical issues, Barron was working for AdzZoo, an Internet advertising company.
“It’s made me want to work harder on my golf game,” Barron said.
Next week, Doug Barron will turn his attention to April Sound Country Club & Resort in Montgomery, Texas, and the second event on the Adams Golf’s Winter Series. He’s also considering play on the eGolf Tour. And there’s always the job back at AdzZoo.
Despite the setback, Barron got an emotional boost in recent days.
“I received 30 to 40 phone calls of support from peers, friends and some I didn’t consider friends,” Barron said. “It helps me to make it through this one way or another.”