Carly Ray Goldstein remembers her first golf memory: As a little girl, she would sit on the carpeted floor in the garage as her father, Barry, practiced putting.
Years later, the Coral Glades senior has 89 tournament victories to her name while ranked as the third-best player of the class of 2013 in Florida and 67th overall in the world, according to the National Junior Golf Scoreboard.
“My favorite thing isn’t just winning, but competing and playing in tournaments,” Goldstein said. “It takes a lot of work, and I like putting in the time to see results. It’s always a good feeling.”
When she was 11, Goldstein won the Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic in Miami, beating the world’s top kids. Two years later, she captured the Future Collegiate World Tour national championship in the 14-under division at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens.
In September 2009, Goldstein went out for the Wal-Mart First Tee — a tournament at Pebble Beach — where she played with professionals Nick Price and Andy North. She also met comedians George Lopez and Bill Murray.
Her father was named a top-50 teacher in the United States by Golf Range Magazine and has been nominated four times by the publication as one of the top-100 Teaching Pros in America. Barry became a golf teacher the year his daughter was born.
Carly Ray calls her dad, who is also her coach, “one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet.” Most of his advice focuses on mental toughness.
“She’s really special,” Goldstein said. “She has an amazing demeanor — very happy, positive person, very upbeat with a great work ethic. She’s got a lot of talent. Her best weapon is right between her ears. She never gets down on herself, always plays her game with a smile, and I think that’s a huge gift in the game of golf.”
Like a free-throw shooter in basketball, routine is fundamental to success in golf. Carly Ray follows through with the same routine — a few practice strokes, two quick looks at the hole and then the actual stroke — each time.
All the while, the silence can be deafening.
“No matter if I have a nerve-racking putt to win a tournament or just a two-footer for par, I usually go through the same routine to stay focused,” Carly Ray said. “It’s the kind of sport where it always feels like there’s all eyes on you. You can’t blame a teammate when something goes wrong. I like that about golf. Everything’s on you. It can get intense sometimes, but it’s part of the game.”
But there was a time when Carly Ray gave up golf — however briefly. During ninth grade, she pulled back for six months.
“It was tough on me because I knew what future she has, but what could you say?” Goldstein said. “I can’t make her do anything. She came back 110 percent motivated and looking back it was probably a good thing. She did it her whole life and all of a sudden she wanted to chill and just be a little normal for awhile and not miss her friends and birthday parties.”
Carly Ray has since orally committed to LSU, which ranks sixth in the nation. She chose the Tigers over schools such as Wake Forest, Texas A&M, South Carolina and North Carolina. Her lowest score is a 67, which came at the Doral World Championships this past December. She averages an even par.
During her road trip visiting colleges, she and her dad ventured from Florida to LSU. Along the way to South Carolina, they stopped at arguably the mecca for the sport, which is finally extending membership to women.
“We actually stopped at the gates to Augusta National and I got out and was taking pictures,” Carly Ray said. “It was really funny. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I’m sure any golfer would be honored to play there. That would be the coolest thing ever.”
After finishing as the Class 1A state runner-up to Jacksonville Bolles last year, American Heritage returns five of its six golfers in the hopes of winning its first title.
Three of the Patriots — sophomores Kristian Caparros (UF) and Jorge Garcia (UF) as well as senior Robert Geibel (Louisville) — are Division I recruits.