Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/23/2014 11:51 AM

Batliner, Calbi enjoy the ride at Barrington

Success - Article sent! close
  • Joey Batliner, left, and Tom Calbi give Barrington a pair of proven varsity standouts heading into the boys golf season.

    Joey Batliner, left, and Tom Calbi give Barrington a pair of proven varsity standouts heading into the boys golf season.
    Submitted photo

By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Barrington teammates Joey Batliner and Tom Calbi have each been involved in their share of high profile, pressure-packed tournaments and dual meets over the past couple of years.

But instead of letting the stress of performing at a top level get to them, both of these talented golfers understand that one of the keys to excellence is to enjoy yourself on the links.

"The goal, of course, is to play your best," says Calbi, a sophomore, "but it's just as important to go out there and have fun."

His buddy Batliner, a senior, couldn't agree more.

"We like to keep each other loose,", said Batliner of he and his Broncos teammates. "Have fun and build up each other's confidence. I guess you could call me the team clown, but that's the way we deal with the pressure and a little trash-talking just makes it more enjoyable."

Now Calbi and Batliner approach the 2014 season with high hopes for a Barrington team advancement all the way to the state tournament in Bloomington, especially after stellar performances last year.

"Joey is a clutch player," said Broncos coach Mike Kallenbach, "and Tom is an exceptional talent. They both love team golf. It seems like the bigger the moment, the better Joey performs. He also does a great job of keeping our team loose. He has a great sense of humor.

"What strikes me most about Tom isn't necessarily his talent, although there isn't a shot that he can't pull off. It's his demeanor on the golf course. No matter what is going on around him, he has an uncanny way of making the game seem so simple."

Batliner's electrifying 2013 campaign took him all the way to Bloomington as he qualified for the state meet as an individual, while Calbi won three tournaments as a freshman, including the Palatine regional.

"These guys really seem to enjoy the camaraderie," said Kallenbach, "not only with our team, but with with opponents as well. Both are exceptional leaders in their own way. They love to compete and we are lucky to have them on our side."

Calbi began to love the game at the tender age of 5, when his dad Steve took him out to the range and began to notice that his son had a natural talent for the sport. The sophomore said that he knew just how good he could be when a couple of years ago he started "playing in a lot of local events and winning them."

Calbi felt comfortable right out of the gate as a frosh on the perennially successful Barrington team.

"My freshman season was a blast," said Calbi. "I already knew some of the guys when I started out, and last season our team formed a strong bond. We went on to win (the Mid-Suburban League) conference title and that was nice."

Calbi played a national schedule of tournaments over the summer, not only in Illinois but also travelling to Kentucky, New York, Tennessee and Maryland to compete.

"The great thing was that we made sure that I had a couple of weeks off between tourneys," said Calbi. "It's important to give yourself a mental break."

Batliner calls his advancement to the state tourney at 'The Den" at Fox Creek Golf Course last year the highlight of his prep career, but with one regret.

"It was awesome being there and knowing you were going up against the best competition in the state," said the senior, "but I was not happy making it as just an individual. I would have preferred going with my team."

"After we won conference, we didn't do as well as we'd hoped in regionals, but thought we'd get it back in sectionals. Unfortunately we fell short. We couldn't relax."

It was Batliner's performance in a playoff at the Huntley sectional at Blackstone Golf Club that turned some heads, as he survived an 8-man playoff to win one of the final state berths.

Then a junior, Batliner showed how good he could be when the pressure was on by draining a 40-foot putt on the first playoff hole, then sinking a clutch 6-footer on the second hole to win the qualifying spot as darkness closed in.

"If I hadn't made that 6-foot putt," said Batliner, "we would have all had to come back the next day to finish because it was just getting too dark."

Batliner also played a strong summer schedule with about 10 tourneys, but now he and Calbi, along with an impressive group of Bronco players, are focused on the prep season.

"We're returning six players with varsity experience," said Kallenbach, while Batliner adds that "we've got six or seven guys on this team who can shoot even par or better."

"Our goal is to win state" Batliner said. "I enjoy being a leader. I feel more in control, and I'm definitely more mature than I was last year, and I credit a lot of that to our captain last year, Brad Powell, who was a big influence on me.

"Individually, I'm a lot stronger this year and want to keep working on my mental focus."

Calbi, who credits a lot of his success to "accuracy to the greens and putting," agrees that this could be one of the best seasons ever for the Barrington golf program.

"I'm really looking forward to my sophomore season," said Calbi. "We've got a great team and as far as winning state, we've got the depth to do it.

"I feel that my job is to play the best golf I can, and if I'm called upon to do it help out the guys on my team who might be struggling, and give them a tip or two if they need it."

"The most important thing," added Calbi, "is to have confidence in yourself."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.