The Journal is shining the spotlight on high school senior athletes whose seasons were cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Landon Barnes wanted a final crack at claiming an NCHSAA Class 1-A title. The East Surry boys golf team ended last season just shy of hoisting a championship — runner-up at Pinehurst No. 6 in March 2019 behind Community School of Davidson. The Cardinals last won a team title in 2008.
Barnes, who will start a Division III career at Guilford, wanted to earn player of the year in the Northwest 1-A for a third straight season as well.
Barnes shared his thoughts in a Zoom conference. Here are the highlights:
Q: What are you missing most about school and golf?
Answer: Just the relationships I've formed with the guys on the team over the years, getting to go to practices, the bus rides and competing with them. I mean, it's special when you have a whole team working hard for a common goal and that's when special things happen. I'm going to miss all that. It's like a brotherhood at East Surry on our team. We normally hang out on the golf course, and we're hanging out off the golf course all the time. I'm going to miss that.
Q: How are you keeping busy and remaining fit?
Answer: I've been lucky because golf is one of the sports you can still play, so I've been going out there about every day I can. Playing golf with the guys — we get a bunch of guys over there and try to play matches because I'm a competitive person. I like competition, so we've just been getting teams together and playing matches not only at (Pilot Knob Park) but going to different courses and doing that about every day. And, if I'm not doing that, I'm playing tennis or fishing or something with the guys. And then, to stay fit, I have a program from Par4Success (Physical Therapy and Golf Performance Center) in Raleigh. I do workouts about four or five times a-week and I also run three miles a couple times a-week to stay in shape.
Q: If you could have one thing back that COVID-19 has taken from you, what would it be?
Answer: Just the opportunity to win a state championship. I know I've had three, and they haven't went as I liked. But I never felt this confident going into a season as I did this year. I mean, like I said, I thought we had gotten a lot better since last year. I thought we were only going to get better. I thought it was ours to lose, so I just wanted to opportunity — even if it didn't happen — just to win one state championship for East Surry because it's been a long time since we'd won one.
Q: What were a few of your goals throughout senior year, and were those altered?
Answer: As a team, just conference (championship), regionals, states — bang, bang, bang. We wanted to win all of that. We wanted to get better as the year goes on. We didn't want to regress. ... Individually, I would've loved to win conference player of the year again, win states individually. But my main focus was on the team aspect of it, and I just wanted to be a good leader to the rest of the team. I wanted to help teach them, and make sure they got better — make sure they could learn from my mistakes.
Q: What’s been your source of motivation during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Answer: I'd say just trying to be ready for when I get to Guilford. I want to still be ready to compete for that starting spot and help them win conference and national championships. Since I didn't get to do that this year, I want to do that there for sure. And I just can't stand the thought of someone outworking me. Like, you may beat me. But it's not going to be because you worked harder than me. I'm a self-motivator and I always keep myself motivated to go work, go practice. So I just put those thoughts in my head and try to work harder than everyone else.
Q: Who’s the person you couldn’t get through this without?
Answer: Definitely my parents (Daniel and Jenny). I mean, they both have been rocks for me throughout all this. They've helped me not to dwell on this, and realize not to worry about what I can't control. And my faith is a big thing for me. They've helped me try to realize that this is all part of God's plan — nothing happens for an accident. Everything happens for a reason. All I can do is focus on the positives and work on making myself a better player every day, and just try to come out of this a lot better player than I was before.
Q: What have you seen, heard or done during this difficult time that’s made you smile?
Answer: What I've done, just going to play golf with my friends. I'm getting to play with guys on the team (like Bradley Davis, Chase Harris and Anderson Badgett). But I'm also getting to play with the guys that usually play basketball and football and haven't really played golf (like Jefferson Boaz, Landon Stevens, Dillon Mosley and Kyler Jessup). It's just fun to go out there, play matches and see them getting better. I watched the 2019 Masters replay a couple months ago, when Tiger (Woods) won it. Tiger's my favorite of all time. He's the (greatest of all time). That made me smile. I mean, that was one of the best comebacks I've ever seen when he won at Augusta. So like that — these are dark times, so anything helps.