Dawn Barlow Darter (1959–)
Dawn Barlow Darter is a longtime golf professional. While she played some tournaments, three times qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open, she has spent the bulk of her career as a club pro. She worked at a number of different clubs both in and out of Arkansas before becoming the pro at The Greens in her hometown of Sherwood (Pulaski County), on the course that backed up to her childhood home and where she first learned the game.
Dawn Marie Barlow was born on July 7, 1959, in Sherwood to Owen Gene Barlow Sr. and Dawn Barlow. She has two sisters and a brother. As a child, she was torn between golf and softball, but with the family’s house backing up to the sixth fairway of The Greens, a brother who was a first-rate golfer, and a father who urged her to give the game a try, golf won out. When she arrived at Mount St. Mary Academy, the Catholic high school for girls in Little Rock (Pulaski County), her talent was so evident that the school’s physical education director organized a team so that Barlow could play in the state tournament. She won the competition all three times she played, the final time being in 1977 just before the end of her senior year.
Throughout that period, she was also dominating the local junior amateur competitions, medaling at age sixteen in the state women’s amateur tournament. As the first out-of-state Title IX athlete at the University of Oklahoma, she ranked in the top twenty-five among collegians nationally as a freshman. Midway through her sophomore year, she decided to turn pro.
Her foray onto the professional tournament circuit was short lived. After she and Gary Darter—whom she had first met playing at The Greens—married, she tried the tour circuit for a couple of years, with him present, but life on the road was not appealing and her financial prospects did not make it worthwhile. But her love of the game remained, so she looked to become a club pro.
She first apprenticed under veteran Tom Hanson at The Greens in 1981 before going to Jacksonville (Pulaski County), where she served as head pro at Foxwood Country Club from 1982 to 1985. From there, Dawn Darter moved to Blytheville (Mississippi County) before taking a job at Black Mountain Golf and Country Club in Henderson, Nevada. From 2004 until February 2010, she was the director of golf at Wild Horse Golf Club in Henderson. However, she heard that efforts were being mounted to renovate and reopen The Greens in Sherwood, which had been closed for three years, and she let people know of her interest in returning home, saying it was the only place for which she would have left Nevada.
The return to Sherwood also allowed her to pursue one of the passions of her work as a club pro, introducing young people to the game. Over the years, Darter served on the Section Junior Golf Committee and volunteered her time to serve several area high school golf programs. She has also served as a regional junior golf director for the Arkansas Chapter of the South Central Professional Golf Association (PGA) for more than two decades.
Darter won her chapter’s Player Development Award three times, her chapter’s Youth Player Development Award eight times, and the South Central PGA Youth Player Development Award in 2018. She was also selected for the South Central PGA’s highest honor, the 2019 Golf Professional of the Year, coming on the heels of her 2018 induction into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame.
Darter and her husband live in Sherwood.
For additional information:
Grenfell, Carly. “Fairway Tales: Dawn Darter’s Career as a PGA Professional Has Come Full Circle.” PGA.com, March 31, 2021. https://www.pga.com/story/dawn-darters-career-as-a-pga-professional-has-come-full-circle (accessed December 15, 2022).
Hebda, Dwain, “A Legend in Spikes, Dawn Darter Keeps Things Swingin’.” Arkansas Catholic, May 26, 2020. https://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/6528/A-legend-in-spikes-Dawn-Darter-keeps-things-swingin (accessed December 15, 2022).
Traub, Todd. “Darter back at North Hills.” Arkansas Leader, June 18, 2010. http://arkansasleader.blogspot.com/2010/06/sportsdarter-back-at-north-hills.html (accessed December 15, 2022).
William H. Pruden III
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