Young Canadian golfer beats cancer and a top junior field

Dustin wins FCWT 03.10.15

I wrote this story as a news release yesterday for Core Golf Academy. I wish all news releases were this fulfilling to write.

Two years ago, junior golfer Dustin Barr was undergoing chemotherapy for two tumours, but he continued to practice every day and compete.

That will to win helped him beat cancer, and over the weekend the 19-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ontario won his first junior tournament in Florida against top young players from around the world.

Barr went wire-to-wire in shooting consecutive scores of 71 to win the Boys 15-19 division of the Future Collegians World Tour event at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida by two strokes over Marcos Montenegro of Argentina. With the victory, Golfweek magazine honoured Barr as Junior Boys Player of the Week.

“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am right now. This means a lot,” said Barr, whose dreams of a NCAA college scholarship and playing on the PGA Tour never wavered even after the two cancerous tumors were found-one in his pancreas and another on his hip-in March 2013.

At the time, doctors said Barr required surgery that would cut out part of his pancreas and force a hip replacement. From March through August, Barr underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy, but his Thunder Bay coach Dustin Wilson said Barr “played golf everyday and you’d never know he had cancer.” (Check out story and picture.)

After a golf trip to Scotland with Wilson that included his “wish” round at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland arranged by the Children’s Wish Foundation, Barr continued chemotherapy and competing even though his hair fell out and he felt exhausted. Back in Canada, Barr underwent 16 hours of surgery and the doctors reported the tumors were dead and his hip was saved. He immediately began a physiotherapy program to build his strength.

This past January, Barr was strong enough to enroll at Core Golf Academy in Orlando where he’s working on his game with his coach Nick Duffy, competing and hoping to catch the eyes of some NCAA college coaches.

In Thunder Bay, his mother Leanne said the family was overjoyed. “We have cleared the avalanche and now just have to get to the top of that mountain.”

Jeff Hay, Core’s Director of Golf, said Barr’s victory has thrilled everyone connected with the academy and demonstrated the young man’s grit and determination.

“It’s tremendous how Dustin has overcome such odds and continued to pursue his dream,” Hay said. “Because of his illness, he really hasn’t played many tournaments against top competition, which makes his win all the more incredible.

“With this victory and beating cancer, I think it sets Dustin up to attract attention from some college coaches. Wouldn’t any coach want a fighter like this guy?”

For more on Dustin’s story and the key role that his Thunder Bay coach Dustin Wilson played in supporting him, check out this Globe and Mail article.

Photo: Core Golf Academy



About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!