Jeff Barnhart, the executive director of the Alaska Golf Association, died in his sleep and was found at his home in Anchorage on July 25, 2021. He was 57.
Since 2009, Barnhart served as the executive director of the Alaska Golf Association, administering core services to the state’s golf industry and helping to conduct the state’s golf tournaments. He was a former PGA club professional, serving stints as the head pro at Palmer (Alaska) Golf Course and Settlers Bay Golf Course in Wasilla, Alaska. A fine player, he was medalist at a U.S. Open Local qualifier in 2007.
A man for all sports seasons, he was involved in numerous aspects of Alaska sports, as both a coach and an organizer. Barnhart was a former dogsled sprint musher who contributed to radio coverage of the Fur Rendezvous World Championship race, and an assistant coach for East’s high school and American Legion baseball teams.
Barnhart was an assistant coach of the East High School baseball team, which was set to play a game at 1 p.m. on July 25. He is typically the first to the park, so when he wasn’t there as game time approached, head coach Kurt Solberg got concerned.
Solberg hastily filled in a lineup card – a task usually performed by Barnhart – and then drove to Barnhart’s home, where he found his friend, still in bed.
When Solberg called tournament official Don Winchester with the news, the baseball game had just started. The game’s first batter was Zack Barnhart, Jeff’s teenage son, who just graduated from East High.
Winchester got in touch with Kathie Barnhart, Zack’s mom, and told her what had happened. She arrived in the third inning. Officials brought Zack out of the dugout, and his mother told him about his father.
The game stopped so tournament officials could tell umpires and the teams what had happened, and Winchester spoke to the East crowd. A moment of silence was held in Barnhart’s honor.
Barnhart grew up in Eagle River, Alaska and graduated from Chugiak High School. He had two children, Zack and McKenzie.
(Thanks to Beth Bragg of Anchorage Daily News.)