[리서치페이퍼=Giselle Rances 기자]
What a difference a change of scenery can make.
Transferring to Fox Creek freed up Chad Carter to forge his own path rather than trying to fill the exceptionally large South Aiken spikes of his older brother Jake.That freedom, an improved short game and a boosted level of confidence contributed to a season worthy of Aiken Standard Player of the Year honors.
The same honor his older brother won the year before.
"Knowing that he could do it and then me coming up and doing it kind of gives me a little bit more confidence going out on the golf course, just knowing that I can achieve some of the stuff that he did," Chad Carter said, before joking, "Trying to be better than him right now, but that's kind of hard to do."
That increased confidence was especially important this year in his junior season, as he admitted there's not much he can do on the course if he's unsure of himself.Instead, teeing it up with the knowledge that he was capable of getting the job done helped him reach a higher level of play.
That much was apparent at the end of the season, with strong showings at the Region 3-AA tournament and Southern Cross.Then Carter finished third individually at the Class AA state championship with a 1-over 145 total, earning All-State recognition, while leading Fox Creek to a fourth-place finish in the team competition.Where his raised level of confidence truly shows is how he assessed that closing stretch.
"I'm a little disappointed, because I know could've played better in both tournaments," he said, referring to Southern Cross and the state championship. "But it's better than last year.It's a lot better than last year, so as long as I'm improving I'm pretty content with it."
A win at the Magnolia Invitational in Sumter back in March started the momentum.Knowing he could win a tournament with players from much bigger schools proved to him that he could finish an event, something that makes things a little easier the next time he's in a similar situation.
Carter's wedge game improved — and it had to for him to get better.His length off the tee means he frequently ends up hitting nothing more than wedges into greens, and he had always struggled with those shots from around 100 yards and in.By fine-tuning that part of his game, he's able to get the ball closer to the hole and have better looks at birdie.
That helped, as did a little bit of growing up he was forced to do in a new environment.
"It's different, because at South Aiken it was kind of on Jake," he said. "I could lean on him, but now it was on me.It was kind of like a maturity thing where I knew I had to get up and step up my game to come through for my teammates."
It was a fresh start at Fox Creek, one Carter needed.It created pressure — not more, but a different kind.No longer could he rely on his brother if he had a bad round.This year, he had to play for himself but also with his teammates now relying on him.
He didn't let them down.Carter was a steady performer at the top of a strong Predators' lineup throughout the season, during which the team was regularly near the top of the state rankings.Their region championship and state title finish in their first year at the Class AA level is a big step toward what could be an even more successful campaign next year.
"Knowing that we can compete in AA is just fueling the fire," Carter said. "We knew we could've played better, and it's just going to make my teammates come out and play more and be better to where we can have a better chance next year."
Golfer Chad Carter by Fox Creek Golf[리서치페이퍼=Giselle Rances 기자]