“I brought my first golf bag to just 10 years old. Those days, working as a caddy, paid well. I was paid 30c for a day’s work, enough to buy bread and a cold drink. This is where my love for the game started. I dreamed that one day I would become a professional golfer, “he said.
But when his father died and his mother gave him and his sisters adoption, Barnes’ hard upbringing saw him flee to KwaZulu-Natal, where he slept in a minibus taxi and sold newspapers to feed himself.
Years later, after being able to reconnect with his mother and having difficulty living with relatives, his path took him back to Zwartkops, where he again worked as a caddy.
“I fell for a few years, sleeping under a tree after a day on the golf course. On cold winter nights, the other caddies and I would make big fires to stay warm. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy, but we did it together, “he said.
On days when falling work was slow, he supported himself by finding golf balls in the Hennops River.
“Sometimes you’ve been lucky. In the summer, when the floods would come, you will find hundreds of balls under the bridge. In the days when I couldn’t find the balls, I would have had nothing to eat, “he said.
Barnes was forced to leave the golf course when it was transformed into an estate, and returned to the street again, sleeping in the bush or on the sidewalks of Centurion.
“Life on the streets has been hard but I had to manage it. I had no one to look up to, no one to complain to. I had no family, no place to call home. I was alone. At night, I prayed for tsotsi it wouldn’t kill me. I slept with one eye open, waiting for the morning, “he said.
Last year, when golf club officials heard he was a homeless man, they offered him a container to stay in and, as fate would have it, made friends with Frost, who ran a breakfast club for kids. homeless in the area.
They were both golf enthusiasts.