For many golfers, the pro shop is the first stop after playing the back nine. Gerald Barron, though, is leaving the Ole Miss Golf Course in retirement Wednesday after nine years as its pro shop manager.
After graduating from Ole Miss in 1971, Barron worked for several insurance agencies throughout the Northeast and South before coming back to Oxford about 12 years ago.
“I’m one of those Ole Miss alumni that wanted to move back to Oxford,” Barron said. “To be able to work at Ole Miss and contribute back to the school in some small way was just kind of neat,” he said.
When Barron first came back to live in Oxford, he worked for the University under Jeff McManus, director of landscape services.
During this time, Landscape Services took care of the Ole Miss Golf Course. McManus was looking for people from within his organization to help run the golf course. Barron’s business background led McManus to hire him to run the course’s pro shop.
At the start of Barron’s time as pro shop manager, former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat was renovating the golf course as one of his final projects at the University. According to Barron, Khayat’s vision was to bring the golf course to a level that fit the Ole Miss image. This included everything from the facilities to the staff’s hospitality.
“Our vision statement is ‘exceptional golf, uniquely Ole Miss’ and that is kind of in a sense what we have tried to do,” Barron said. He said he hopes when people drive onto the Ole Miss course, they know they are still at Ole Miss.
Under Barron’s supervision, the core of the course’s staff is made up of student workers. Junior Maggie Keappler has worked on the pro shop staff for Barron for more than two years. Keappler said she will miss a lot about Barron, but most of all just being able to talk to him.
“He has a way about him where you can tell he actually cares about what you have to say and is interested in what is going on in your life,” Keappler said.
At 66, Barron says it is time for he and his wife to do other things. The two plan to travel and spend more time with their son and daughter and their two grandchildren.
Tate Anderson, currently pro shop supervisor, will take over as the shop’s new manager. “He is a good choice and very qualified candidate to take my position,” Barron said.
Anderson said he hopes to uphold Barron’s standards and attention to detail and dealings with staff members.
“We never felt that we worked for Barron; we always felt like we worked with him,” Anderson said.
– Claire Harper