2010: Miller Baber Jun 7, 2010  (9 years ago)

 
By Randy King
Jun 7, 2010, 10:31

Miller Baber to enter Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame

Miller Baber, one of the best amateurs in the area for the past 30 years, helped develop the Scott Robertson Memorial tournament.

The Roanoke Times / File 2006

It's never been an argument that Miller Baber would one day be tapped for the Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame.

The only question has been when. Well, Miller's time is here.

Baber was a unanimous choice by the selection board to represent the 2010 class in the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame.

Baber will join his father, Ned, who was inducted in 1982. The Babers become the third father-son combination in the hall, joining the late Clarence (1974) and Billy King (1993), and the late duo of Gary and Alvis Hylton (1976).

''It's a very big deal for me,'' Miller Baber said. ''Now, I've got to start working on an acceptance speech. It will be short, I promise you.''

Baber's contributions have been anything but short. In addition to being one of the valley's best amateur players the past three-plus decades, Baber has played instrumental roles in the growth of the Scott Robertson Memorial junior tournament, the launching and development of The First Tee of Roanoke Valley and the revival of the Valley Amateur, known as the Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship.

Need more? Baber was a big reason why Cox Communications added The Golf Channel in the late 1990s.

Following the footsteps of his father, winner of the 1960 Men's State Amateur title and three HOF titles, Miller Baber began playing golf at Roanoke Country Club at age 6 and later became one of the valley's top junior players.

Baber, a 1983 Patrick Henry graduate, owned the area scene in high school. He placed fourth in the Group AAA tournament as a junior and senior and was the Metro player of the year each season. He captured the HOF junior crown in 1982.

A little known fact about Baber is he took down John Daly in a junior event at Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian in the early 1980s.

''Daly moved to Virginia for a couple of years around that time, when he was 14 and 15, and we played together several times,'' said Baber of Daly, winner of the 1991 PGA and the 1995 British Open.

After playing golf at Virginia and Virginia Tech, Baber turned professional. It didn't last long and he reapplied for his amateur status. The longtime financial consultant captured the Roanoke Valley Match Play in 1996, 2002 and 2006. While he's never won the Hall of Fame men's championship, his 12 rounds under par are tops in tournament history, one ahead of his longtime friend Bobby Penn, a 2008 inductee.

''I hate he's got me by one. That's the worst thing about not playing golf again for me,'' said Penn, who does not play because of back problems.

Baber's contributions to the Robertson and The First Tee have been invaluable, 2007 HOF inductee Tom Robertson noted.

''Miller took the Scott Robertson to the next level as entry chairman in terms of attracting the caliber of players we started to bring in,'' Robertson said.

Robertson said Baber's selection for the hall is overdue.

''I don't think anybody has more knowledge about the golfing scene in Roanoke and has devoted the number of hours that he has," Robertson said. "And he does it in a very quiet way, often behind the scenes. He's a leader and he's well respected by everybody in the golf community because he doesn't have any self interests, and he's a good player so that garners its own respect.''

On top of everything else, Baber has been tabbed by some as the resident historian of the game.

''Miller is very well read, he knows people in the know,'' close friend Mike Flanary said. ''He knows his history of golf, he knows his architecture and why golf courses are good. He loves the game, he knows a ton about the game."

His selection to the hall caps a 18-month period in which he got married and he and his wife, Hilarie, welcomed daughter, Bailey Miller Baber, to the world.

''It's a great time for me right now,'' Baber said.

Talk about a guy on a roll.

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