Barber was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1954, turned professional four years later, and won his first PGA Tour event in 1964. He earned 11 career tour wins, but did not win a Major championship. The closest he came was in 1969 at the U.S. Open at Houston, where he held a three-shot lead over the field after three rounds, but shot 78 in the last round to finish three shots behind winner Orville Moody.
Also in 1969, Barber entered the final round of the Masters Tournament two shots out of the lead and was paired in Sunday’s final group, but shot a final round 74 to finish 7th.
In 1973, Barber won the longest regulation tournament in PGA Tour history. The World Open Golf Championship, played at Pinehurst Country Club, was a 144-hole affair. Barber won by three strokes over Ben Crenshaw.
Barber became eligible to play on the Senior PGA Tour around a year after it was founded. He was one of the dominant players on the tour throughout the 1980s, competing on even terms with players who had had much more distinguished earlier careers, such as Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer. His 24 wins on the tour included five senior Majors, three of them U.S. Senior Opens.
Barber holds the record for combined PGA Tour and Champions Tour starts at 1,297.