Ryan Carter is a relative newcomer to golf, taking his first real swing at a ball when he was 13.
Many golfers of note often take their first swing at age 4 or 5 — or younger.
Because his first swing was later in life, Carter, now 22, can remember — albeit painfully — that first club-against-ball attempt at the Palmetto Golf Course driving range in South Dade.
“The ball went about 10 yards,” he recalled. “I topped it.”
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After that introduction, not too enamored with golf, Carter turned to his father and said, “I will never play this game again.”
Turns out he was terribly wrong.
These days, he is on a golf course nearly every day. He has gone on to be the Miami-Dade County Player of the Year out of Palmetto High, then playing golf at Florida Tech after transferring from St. Thomas.
And, strangely, it was what made him so frustrated on that initial swing that led him toward being so enamored with the game.
“Because it was so difficult,” Carter said. “I wanted to find out why it was so difficult.
“Now I’m hooked, and I have been for a long while.”
A week ago, and still an amateur, Carter played in the Florida Open in a performance that was one of the highlights of his career. The 69-year-old tournament at the Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville includes some of the top amateurs and professionals in the state, including several PGA Tour multiple winners.
Carter shot 66-79-70 for an 11-under-par 205, and was one stroke back going into the middle stages of the final round. In that round, he had a scorching start with birdies on the first hole and third hole followed by an eagle on the fourth.
A four-stroke lead by eventual winner John Jonas was suddenly a one-stroke advantage.
However, on the ninth hole, Carter took a double-bogey that deflated his charge.
“I’ve definitely been doing better,” Carter said. “The last two months have been the best golf of my life.”
Yes, he would like a professional career, but after another year of school — even though his college golf eligibility is used up — he should have a civil engineering degree. But he would prefer golf.
“I know becoming a professional golfer is not easy,” he said. “In fact, it’s one of the toughest things in the world to do.”
But trying to solve the vagaries of golf and its attendant challenges and difficulty is what got him started on this path when he was 13.
So why change now?
BARRY ADDS FOUR
Barry University has announced the signing of four players for the men’s team.
The Buccaneers added freshmen Chase Wathen of Louisville, Jack Allard of Zimbabwe, Niclas Weiland of Sweden and Warner University junior transfer Cameron Doogan, a native of England.
“It is a solid recruiting class with lots of potential,” coach Jimmy Stobs said. “All four just need tournament experience and some course-management work.”
Wathen is the second-ranked junior in Kentucky and was the runner-up in this year’s state amateur match play.
Allard has won 10 junior tournaments in the past three years and has competed for the Zimbabwe National Team.
Weiland tied for eighth in the Nordic Golf League qualifying school, which serves as a satellite for the European Tour. He was the eighth-ranked Swedish junior player.
Doogan finished third at the Coastal Georgia Winter Invitational in February.