A 59-year-old man who was homeless and living on the streets of Pretoria only five months ago now qualifies for the professional Sunshine golf tour.
Despite challenging circumstances, Llewellyn Barnes entered Q-School, where he qualified to participate in a Sunshine Senior Tour event, the Fidelity Pro-Am, reports Centurion Rekord.
It will be held on 16 and 17 March at the Country Club Johannesburg.
At the age of 10, he became an orphan after his father died. His mother was unable to take care of Barnes and his siblings on her salary as a domestic worker. His sisters were thus placed in foster care in the Eastern Cape.
Barnes was sent to Zwartkop Country Club where he lived in a hostel.
“I carried my first bag as a caddie at the age of 10. Those days, working as a caddie, paid well. I was paid 30c for a day’s work, enough to buy bread and a cool drink. I dreamt that one day I would become a professional golfer,” said Barnes.
Three years later he ran away from Zwartkops after being abused by teachers and classmates. He found himself in Durban, sleeping in a Kombi and selling newspapers for an income.
In the meantime, he did his best to reunite with his mother, who was staying in Uitenhage with another man at the time.
“He did not have much time for us. They were always drinking and fighting. I could not stay there. Once again, I took the road,” said Barnes.
Barnes went back to Centurion. At that time, the country club was undergoing renovations and Barnes was forced to live on the streets where he faced a world of uncertainty and danger.
In January 2019, the golf club where he was a caddie offered him a storage container to stay in.
He befriended Gareth Frost, who was running a breakfast club on Saturday mornings, for the homeless at Wierda bridge.
Barnes shared the dream of becoming a golfer with Frost. Frost contacted the Senior Tour directors, learned the requirements and gathered the funds for Barnes to enter Q-School.
Barnes plays off a +2 handicap.
Frost and Fearless Love founder Ilonka Esterhuyse started a campaign on donations-based crowdfunding BackaBuddy to appeal to the public to support Barnes for his upcoming tournament.
Carli Koch / The Citizen