Michael Barnard had just missed a putt on the final hole of the District 9-AAA golf tournament, then he walked over to Bryce Lewis and started laughing.
The two juniors are so used to playing against one another that some type of joking around is expected.
Barnard (who plays for Beech) and Lewis (who plays for Hendersonville) have grown up playing against each other in junior tournaments around the state, so the high school competition is more like a leisurely 18-hole stroll with a friend.
“Whenever one of us is playing good, we normally feed off of each other with birdies and stuff,” Barnard said. “It makes it a whole lot more fun to play with (Lewis).”
Lewis won the District 9-AAA individual title on Monday, defeating Mt. Juliet’s Cooper Sears on the first hole of a playoff, while Barnard won a three-way playoff for third place. Both players played in the final group, something each has become accustomed to.
“We played with each other in the State Junior Amateur this year, and we both finished in the top three,” Lewis said. “I think it was 6-under, 8-under-par, so we definitely fed off each other a lot.”
Both players have already committed to playing for Middle Tennessee State University, and each made the announcement nearly a week apart during the summer.
“I think we both really liked (MTSU),” Lewis said. “I think we both knew even before (MTSU head coach Brennan Webb) offered us that they were going to be really good and we were going to get a lot better there.”
Barnard added, “This year, we really started to practice and get our game down. It’s really helped a lot.”
Both players have help available quickly if their games need a tweak. Lewis’ father, Trey, is one of the state’s more accomplished amateurs, having qualified for the United States Mid-Amateur tournament in 2005.
Trey and Bryce have won together, too, as the duo teamed up to win the Tennessee Father-Son Championship in June at Stonehenge Golf Club. It came just days after Bryce won the Tennessean/Metro Parks Schooldays Golf Tournament at McCabe Golf Course. Trey was the Schooldays runner-up to Porter Nelms in 1986.
Barnard nearly joined Bryce Lewis in that Schooldays final, falling 2-and-1 to Franklin 17-year-old Paul Swindell in the other semifinal. Barnard’s mother, Julie – who played collegiately at Vanderbilt – is Beech’s head coach. His father, Corey, played at Austin Peay.
It means both of them can get help when they need it.
“It’s really great knowing that you can always have help, too,” Barnard said. “Say you’re struggling, you can always just call up your mom or dad and just go out and get easy help like that.”
Lewis added, “I get free lessons, so that’s always a benefit financially. My dad gives me lessons.”
Barnard and Lewis have also teamed up in competition, reaching the quarterfinals of the Tennessee Golf Association’s 46th annual Four-Ball Championship before falling to eventual champions Jack Smith and Ryan Greer.
Lewis helped lead Hendersonville to its 12th consecutive district title, and the Commandos are hoping to make their ninth consecutive appearance at the state tournament as a team.
Barnard hopes to join them as an individual, something no male golfer from Beech has done…yet.
And if both were to play together at the state tournament?
“May the best man in,” Lewis said. “We’d probably feed off each other, though. It’d be really fun. We’d have a good time if we played with each other. We’d be nagging each other all day.”
Reach Chris Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @CB_SumnerSports, and on Snapchat @cbrooksgne.