Avery Barnes leads as a first-year

First-year Avery Barnes follows through his tee shot at the Marlin Invitational.

Tyler Costello|Courtesy

First-year Avery Barnes has been a crucial part of the Virginia Wesleyan Men’s Golf team despite the fact he has only been on campus for nine months. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Barnes is the number one golfer in the line-up, meaning he is most consistently leading the team. 

Senior and team captain Joey Gray commented on the impact that having a first-year as the number one golfer has on the program. “I think it says a lot about the growth of our program, and it shows the amount of talent he’s already got,” Gray said. 

But according to Barnes, he was not the best junior golfer. So for him, picking VWU was not a hard decision. “I wasn’t highly recruited, so I looked at my options and picked the best option for me and my family and sort of ran with it,” Barnes said. 

For Barnes, his family is the reason he plays golf; his grandfather and dad put a club in his hand when he was little, since they had been playing their entire lives. Director of Men’s and Women’s Golf Tom Hall commented on the importance of family for Barnes. “His dad is at every single event we have,” Hall said. “His support system at home is pretty awesome.”

According to Gray and Hall, Barnes is one of the most competitive players they have ever met. “He’s a very friendly, easy going kind of guy. But when it’s time to compete, he turns into somebody different. He does not like to lose,” Hall said. Gray commented on how Barnes is a very goal oriented player. “When he’s got his mind set on something, he’s going to work as hard as you can to get that goal,” Gray said. 

His hard work has paid off from the fall season to now. While he was getting acclimated to college golf, he placed 10th in his first tournament in the fall. He then placed second at the next tournament. He has also led the team to second and third place team performances this spring season. He has worked all his way up to Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) player of the week, along with first-year women’s player Juliette Coffey, announced on March 20. 

Barnes has some pretty high goals, one of them including winning at least one of the few tournaments the team has left. “I want to be ODAC Freshman of the Year, and I want to go to nationals,” Barnes said. 

Barnes also wants the team to go to nationals. “That would be big for the program and help recruiting,” Barnes said. Hall thinks that Barnes has earned a spot as an All-conference player, whether it is first or second team. The awards are handed out at the conference tournament. 

As for the future of the program, Gray thinks Barnes will help recruit more players like him. “When recruits come in and visit and meet Avery and see what type of golfer he is, I think that might encourage them to come here,” Gray said. 

Barnes and the team will compete at the ODAC Championships from April 28 to May 1 in Williamsburg, Virginia. 

By: Colette Kearney