State Amateur a family affair for Carpenters

State Amateur a family affair for Carpenters
Former UT Martin golfer Scott Carpenter was a standout for the Skyhawks during his college days and he has enjoyed even more success in his amateur career since graduation. Carpenter is playing the best golf of his career right now and will take his game to the Tennessee State Amateur Championships at Ridgeway Country Club in Memphis, starting today. At the State Amateur, Carpenter will compete against the best competition Tennessee has to offer for the state’s top amateur honor. Carpenter won’t be alone in his quest for the State Amateur title. Inside the ropes and on the bag as his caddie will be his dad and former coach at UT Martin, Jerry Carpenter. As most any competitive golfer will tell you, the key to a successful tournament is having a caddie on the bag that knows your game, even better than you do at times. Luckily for Scott, he and his dad have been on the course together since he picked up his first club in the fourth grade. “I can remember back when Scott first picked up a cut-off 5-iron and started hacking around the course,” recalled Jerry. “He really had a natural swing even then and just took off from there. “Since that time, he’s only had a handful of lessons and the rest has been all him. The only thing he and I have ever gone over was a little bit of course management.” Scott has grown up on the golf course with his dad around and the two grew even closer through the two seasons Scott was able to play for his dad at UT Martin. With a closeness that extends past the typical father-son relationship and onto the golf course the decision to have him on the bag in the biggest tournament of his amateur career so far was a no brainer. “He (Jerry) has wanted to do something like this for years now,” the younger Carpenter said. “Having him on the bag is comforting, because he does know my game so well. He also knows exactly what to say to me when I need to hear it. “Through it all though, he’s still dad and this is an experience that not every father and son have the opportunity to have together.” Scott’s natural golf swing has had plenty of practice this summer as he’s competed in a number of regional tournaments and had quality finishes in each. Those tournament performances were highlighted by a 27th place finish at the Irvin Cobb Pro-Am Championships in Paducah in which Scott competed against both professional and amateur competition. His quality performance at the Cobb Championships also included the second hole-in-one of his career and helped give him the confidence to make a run at qualifying for the State Amateur. Scott attempted to qualify once before, as a sophomore in college, but fell one stroke short of making the field. This year he qualified with ease after a 2-over-par 74, eighth-place finish in the qualifying tournament at Jackson Country Club. In addition to tournament competition, Scott has also been putting in a lot of work on the practice range. He isn’t the only one practicing though. After Scott qualified and Jerry knew he was going to be carrying a 40-plus pound golf bag for two-to-three miles each day, he knew he needed to be in shape for that. In preparation he has been training himself by walking in his neighborhood each night like always, only now he has a golf bag on his back. After being stopped a few times in the beginning by curious neighbors making sure the coach hadn’t lost his way from the golf course, Jerry says he is ready and hopes he has to carry the bag all five days of the tournament. The entire 144-player field will play two rounds today and Wednesday with the 60 lowest scores and ties moving on to Thursday’s third round and the final round Friday. Scott said of his mindset heading into the week is that he has it broken into individual goals. “Of course you never enter a tournament with out the goal of winning it, but first I have to make the cut and that is goal number one right now,” he said. “Past that we will enter the final two rounds and I’ll try to play the best I can. That’s all I can do at that point; then just wait to see where the chips fall in the end.” Scott’s playing career isn’t the only occasion that he and Jerry have shared time on the golf course. After Scott’s graduation from college, he stayed connected with the Skyhawk golf program as a volunteer assistant coach, helping guide his former teammates side-by-side with his dad. Scott is now in his fourth year as a coach and routinely participates in practice sessions with the team, working with players on their game, and travels to a number of tournaments each year. This experience has given Scott another unique exposure to the game that will only help him in his quest for the state title. While primarily focused on Scott’s game, both Scott and Jerry will give an occasional glance to the leader board for a pair of current Skyhawks also in the field. Cole Floyd of Milan and Sam Hinson of Lexington are both in the field and looking for the chance that every athletes wants — to beat the coach. Uniquely this time, they would have the opportunity to beat both of their coaches. Also in the field, is another former UT Martin athlete Danny Green. Green was an All-American tennis player in the mid-’70s, and picked up golf after his tennis career was done. He found tremendous success in his new sport, winning the Tennessee State Amateur in 1993, 2000 and 2003. Despite facing the toughest competition of his career, Scott is focused and confident in his game. “I’m playing the best I have right now and dad has always gotten me where I needed to be in tournaments. Most importantly though we are both looking to have fun and enjoy the experience.” With his dad on the bag, the two lined up that first tee shot on No. 1 this morning and embarked together down a fairway they have both dreamed of walking down.

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