Aynor Golf ILB

Braeden Barnett sets up for a putt at Diamondback Golf Course. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking

As Aynor golf coach Patrick Wilkinson received the team shirts ahead of their first tournament last year, he got a phone call that would change the course of their — and everyone else’s — spring.

The sports season had been canceled. 

Fast forward to present day, Wilkinson is happy to have the team back and has seen the work pay off for those who returned.

“We were unsure we were going to have [a season] based on the way schools were going and the phases the high school league had,” Wilkinson said. “Now, we’re able to get out and play.”

For senior Railey Smith, the events that happened last year have made this season “worthwhile.”

“It’s been great,” Smith said. “We didn’t have a junior year and we didn’t know if we were going to have a senior year.”

Fellow senior Braeden Barnett said that the team not losing any seniors made things a tad bit easier on them losing a season.

“We didn’t have to experience just not having a senior year,” Barnett said, adding that a senior year is “very important in sports and in academics.”

The team has been putting work in since the beginning of February and Smith is hoping to continue to make improvements around the green. 

“As the saying goes, ‘Drive for show, putt for dough,’” Smith said. “Most of your strokes are made up around the green. It’s more about strategy out here than being able to hit the ball a long way.”

Aynor typically fields a competitive team. A year off isn’t going to change that, according to Wilkinson and his players.

“We’ve [gone to the state championship] every year that I’ve been a member [of the team],” Barnett said.

Barnett and the team have set their sights high for the state competition, hoping to crack Top 10.

“That’s a big deal,” Barnett said. “We have 16, 17 teams that make it. So, top 10 for us will be pretty good.”

Wilkinson agreed with his players — this group has talent and potential.

“If we catch lightning in a bottle, we could be alright,” Wilkinson said.

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