New Hampshire native Chelso Barrett advances at US Amateur

He should be at freshman orientation right now. Chelso Barrett’s flight to Texas Christian University was scheduled for Wednesday.

But Barrett’s collegiate career — “ the next chapter of my life,” as he calls it — is on hold.


The New Hampshire native keeps on winning, here at The Country Club, the toughest course he’s ever played on.

“It’s cool to be doing this well at this big of a tournament so close to home,” said Barrett. “Kind of a last goodbye.”

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Barrett defeated fellow 18-year-old Jim Liu, 3 and 2, in match play on Wednesday to advance to the round of 32 at the US Amateur.

Liu, bound for Stanford in the fall, was the 2010 US Junior Amateur champion. Barrett was that tournament’s runner-up in 2011 — defeating Liu along the way.

“They know each other well,” Barrett’s mother, Gina said. “Almost everyone on this circuit does.”


Wednesday’s match went back and forth until the 12th hole — a par 5. All square, Liu shanked his wedge from about 60 yards.

Barrett made par — and did not lose a hole after that.

“I just tried to stay on top of things and not give away the opportunity that I had,” said Barrett, who had about 15 friends and family members on hand.

Barrett’s home is about a two-hour drive from Brookline, although his family has stayed in a hotel this week — in large part to avoid traffic.

The Barrett family is well-known in New Hampshire golf circles. They own and operate the Bretwood Golf Course in Keene.

Chelso Barrett’s grandfather and great uncle founded the 36-hole course. Chelso’s father, Hugh, who designed nine holes at Bretwood, won the 1980 New Hampshire Amateur and competed in the 1981 US Amateur.

Chelso’s aunt, Ali Barrett, played at Western Kentucky. And his maternal grandmother was a multiple club champion at Bretwood, as well as the Keene Country Club.

‘It’s cool to be doing this well at this big of a tournament so close to home. Kind of a last goodbye.’

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And then there’s Chelso, a three-time New Hampshire state champion appearing in his eighth USGA event. He might be one of the most successful amateurs to hail from the Granite State.

But when it came to college, Barrett wanted to go far away.

“Staying close wasn’t on his radar,” said his mother. “TCU was really the only school he looked at.”

“Always wanted to go South,” Barrett said. “Ever since I was little.”

Mostly because of the opportunity to play golf year-round.

Three years ago, Chelso’s father built a wooden shed in their New Hampshire backyard.

“Kind of looks like an ice fishing hut,” Chelso said.

It is heated and provides shelter from the wind. Barrett could hit balls throughout the harsh New England winter.

“It’s great,” Gina Barrett said. “But he’s excited to not need to use that anymore.”

TCU offers new opportunities. This season, the Horned Frogs play in Hawaii and Whispering Pines in Texas. Oh, and a tournament in Japan in September.

Barrett has never traveled outside the United States.

“Yeah, that will be pretty cool,” he said.

First he needs to get to Texas. The family received credit from the canceled airline ticket and will rebook it as soon as Barrett finishes the US Amateur.

His mother and older brother — Brett, serving as Chelso’s caddie this week — will then depart, by car. They will make the 28-hour drive from New Hampshire to Texas so Chelso can have a car on campus.

And also settle Barrett into his dorm room — he’s already behind.

Because Barrett missed orientation, TCU golf coach Bill Montigel signed the freshman up for classes.

“No idea what he picked,” Barrett said. “Hopefully something good.”

For now, Barrett is focused on advancing to the next round of the US Amateur. Winning in New England, one last time before heading South, would be special.

Of five New Hampshire natives in this year’s US Amateur, Barrett was the only one to advance to match play.

“I guess I put a little bit of pressure on myself to get here [and qualify for the Amateur],” Barrett said. “But once I got here I felt really comfortable.” 

Emily Kaplan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkaplan.
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