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From father to son: Melvin, Destin Barnes enjoy Herald-Sun Classic first round together

ctoth@heraldsun.com

Mevin and Destin Barnes spent Sunday isiting Earl Barnes, Melvin’s father and Destin’s grandfather, in north Durham.

Earl Barnes is stricken with dementia, but Father’s Day turned out to be a day when his mind was especially sharp.

“He’s had a few strokes and he doesn’t remember much,” Destin Barnes said. “But yesterday he seemed a whole lot more clear. I was able to talk to him a few times. The whole family was there. So it was really good.”

Earl Barnes taught Melvin Barnes the roofing business and Melvin runs Hillsborough’s Chief Roofing. Destin, who turns 20 next month, is in that business now as well helping out his father.

On Monday, the Barnes were at it again passing something else down the generations -- golf.

Melvin Barnes won his Herald-Sun Golf Classic championship last June. When the tournament began again on Monday with the first day of qualifying, Melvin was paired with Destin as they played the first 18 holes of the week-long event at Hillandale Golf Course.

Some 30 years younger than his father, the 6-3, 190-pound Destin Barnes packs a punch off the tee where he regularly hits the ball 80 yards longer than Melvin Barnes. But experience won out on Monday as Melvin Barnes shot a 73 while Destin struggled to an 86.

Destin’s tee shots were strong, but wild and that cost him with a big score as he struggled to keep the ball on the fairways. He’s been fitted for a new driver on order that will arrive in a week or so and he wasn’t comfortable with his old model, with a weaker shaft, on Monday.

“I thought it would be more competitive,” Melvin Barnes said. “He was spraying it. He got hurt off the tee. He had six or seven bogeys and they were all tee-shot related.”

Qualifying rounds Monday and Tuesday help seed the 94 golfers into flights for match play, which begins on Thursday. As the reigning champion, Melvin Barnes is automatically the top seed for the top flight (the championship flight), for match play. That means qualifying is basically practice for him.

As such, he took some chances with shots on Monday that he won’t when the play gets started for real for him on Thursday.

Last year, Melvin Barnes beat Ronnie Williams in the championship flight final to claim the tournament title. On Monday, Williams served notice that he’ll challenge Barnes again by firing a 65 for the day’s lowest score.

But that’s a battle for another day for Melvin. He enjoyed playing a round with his son on Monday and they look forward to doing it again Tuesday.

“As bad as I played,” Destin said, “I still enjoyed it.”

Destin played on Cedar Ridge High School’s golf team parts of three seasons. He missed last year’s Herald-Sun Classic because he was attending school at Cape Fear Community College.

Last September, he caddied for Melvin Barnes as he played in a Golf Channel Tour event in Florida.

Having returned to the Triangle to work at Chief Roofing, Destin gets to be around his dad even more. That means he’s learning golf from one of the area’s top amateur players.

He plans to be more competive with his father in the second qualifying round.

“I’m going to shoot a better score,” Destin said.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC

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