(By Gareth Frost)
Llewellyn Barnes now 59, became an orphan after his dad passed away when he was very young…
When his mom, who was a domestic worker was unable to take care of him, his family was separated, and he was taken to live at a boarding school on a golf course in Zwartkops.
It was here that Barnes started caddying at age 10 and his love for golf blossomed.
According to a BackABuddy fundraiser, Barnes always believed that he could be a professional golfer but like many, never had a break. “I love golf because it’s a gentleman’s game. It takes your heart away from all the bad things that happened. It helped me to focus on something good,” says Barnes.
Homeless at age 25
After the death of his mother, Barnes moved to Pretoria looking for work opportunities but became homeless at the age of 25. He was a caddie whilst he lived on the street and found solace in the profession. He played at every chance he could get.
He was well-liked by fellow caddies, but no one wanted to play against him, as he won most social and caddie competitions. He caddied for Chris Swanepoel, Jean Hugo, Gavin Levenson, Darren Fichardt and says he learned a lot from them.
The future looks bright!
Barnes used to sleep in front of a shop in Centurion for many years, that is where he met Gareth Frost, who started a breakfast club for the homeless in the winter of 2019.
Frost laughs “I am used to requests from my homeless friends. They normally ask for a pair of shoes or shirts. When Llewellyn asked if I would like to sponsor him because he believed he could play professional golf, I thought he was probably high on something. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there could be something special about this guy.”
Prayer and a vision
After Frost had a vision of Barnes smiling while he was signing an autograph, Gareth knew that God was speaking to him. He used the proceeds he made from selling his unwanted items to help Barnes get to the Q-school tournament.
With a donated set of golf clubs and a dream, Barnes and Frost sat in the car praying for the game before the tournament. Frost advised Barnes to play every shot as if he is doing it for God. “Every shot is an act of worship,” he said. This became Barnes’s motto, as he believes he is “here by the grace of God.”
Frost prayed the whole day until he received the call from Barnes. “I made it Gareth. I’m a professional golfer!”
Although he stopped playing golf a year before the tournament, he still managed to walk away with a handicap of +2. The future is looking bright for him. He is excited as his next stop will be the Sunshine Tour.
There are still some challenges though
The donated clubs are illegal for a professional player and must be replaced. Barnes currently needs official attire for the game, travelling and lodging also needs to be covered. The games are scheduled for the 16 March. Barnes’s supporters are hoping to have raised all funds needed by then.
“If we stand together, Llewellyn’s dreams to play with the likes of Ernie Else, can become a reality. He has come this far, and it is only the beginning of a new chapter where he gets a happy ending!” says Frost.
Any additional funds will be used to improve Barnes’s life as he still lives in a container.