Prep Signing: South Rowan golfer Bare to UNC Pembroke
LANDIS — The worst day of Alexandria Bare’s life turned out to be one of those blessings in disguise.
The South Rowan senior developed into one of the county’s top golfers and is still getting better. She signed recently with UNC Pembroke, but that wouldn’t have happened without a serious longboarding accident her freshman year.
Bare grew up in the Enochville community watching the Golf Channel instead of MTV and with dreams of future success and a pro career.
But she was almost too good at sports. She could help every team, so she got involved in everything — basketball, softball, soccer and track, as well as golf.
“She’s a great athlete,” South Rowan golf coach Hunter Fuller said. “She was a good pitcher and she was a heck of a jayvee basketball player.”
Longboards are exciting but potentially dangerous toys — “a surfboard with wheels,” as Bare describes it. She got one as a freshman, took it to a friend’s house, and found herself in a ditch not long after that with a knee injury.
She had a torn ACL and torn meniscus. She had a nine-month recovery period in front of her. Physical therapy sessions replaced athletics her sophomore year. It was a bleak time, but the break from sports gave her a chance to figure out what she really wanted to do.
“I realized my junior year had to be a comeback year,” Bare said. “I gave up every sport so I could focus on what I wanted the most. That was golf.”
Bare did come back her junior year. She averaged 44 for nine holes and placed third in the South Piedmont Conference. She shot 94 in the regional tournament at Winston-Salem’s Meadowlands to qualify for the state tournament at Foxfire. She shot 95-95 — 190 in the state event and tied for 38th. That was an accomplishment for a girl coming off ACL surgery, and a step in the right direction, but Bare was a long way from satisfied.
Bare’s goal for her senior year was a college scholarship. She knew that wasn’t going to happen with 94s. So she put in more time.
“I worked harder than I’d ever worked,” Bare said. “All summer and every weekend, I was on the golf course. Hard work and commitment were life-changing for me.”
The 44s and 45s transformed into 39s and 38s. There was a 36 at the Club at Irish Creek and a 36 at Warrior.
Bare’s senior season provided the breakout she sought. She shot a career-best 76 at Corbin Hills in the Rowan County Championship, placing third behind Salisbury stars Grace Yatawara and Isabella Rusher.
She was consistent in conference play. South Rowan played 12 matches. Bare won five and finished second in the other seven. She shot 77, one stroke behind Cox Mill’s Jaime Cassell in the SPC Championship event at Corbin Hills. Bare’s nine-hole average was 38.
“She not only played some great golf, she was a team leader for us,” Fuller said. “We were supposed to practice one day at Warrior, and it was raining, so I told the girls it was up to them if they wanted to practice. Alexandria said, ‘Let’s go hit.’ The next day all the girls had some of their best scores. We won some matches as a team this season, and that meant a lot to her.”
The girls played from longer tees at Corbin Hills for the 3A regional tournament last month. Bare had some struggles, but mental toughness is as much a part of her game as a smooth, consistent swing. She charged at the finish, shot 82 and placed seventh to qualify for the state tournament at Longleaf in Southern Pines.
Bare was offered walk-on spots by Wake Forest and N.C. State, but she’d never given up on the goal of attracting a college scholarship offer.
“I knew I’d improved a lot, but it was important for me to have a good score at the state tournament,” Bare said. “A lot of college coaches were there.”
In the state tournament, Bare got off to a rocky start. Starting on the back nine, she shot 48, but she rallied for a 40 on her last nine holes of the first day to finish at 88.
“That first day it didn’t click — I had a triple bogey,” Bare said.
On the second day of the state event, she was on her game and turned in a 79, one of the best scores of the day. She finished 17th in the tournament.
“The UNC Pembroke coaches told me shooting under 80 there was impressive,” Bare said.
After Bare visited UNC Pembroke, she decided to sign. It’s a few hours from home, but it’s a quality Division II program and she’ll have a chance to compete for a top-five spot — the top five travel and play the matches — right away. And if Bare, a young senior who missed an entire developmental year, keeps improving, she has the potential to fulfill all of her golf dreams.
“She’s got a gift,” Fuller said. “But she’s also got the drive. That’s even more important.”
Mike London: 704-797-4259; twitter.com/mikelondonpost3