Carter Jenkins with his Carolinas Am trophy
Raleigh, North Carolina native Carter Jenkins started playing golf as a nine-year old, when his dad, Robert, took him to the driving range five minutes from home and let him hit balls while his dad watched. Soon, Robert, a law professor, was providing a few lessons, and now the two are a team with Carter playing and Robert on the bag.
“It’s great being with him,” Jenkins said of his father.
While he didn’t finish July the way he had hoped, losing in a playoff in the Porter Cup at the Niagara Falls Country Club. But the 19-year old UNC Tar Heel has been one of the hottest amateur golfers in country coming into the final weekend of July.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Jenkins told AmateurGolf.com about his summer, in what turns out to be quite the understatement.
Jenkins finished the month of June by winning the North Carolina Amateur, making him the only golfer to hold the NC Am title while holding the Carolinas Amateur Championship title, won the previous summer of 2014, at the same time.
“That was a close one,” Jenkins said of the North Carolina Am. His eagle on No. 17 on the final day was what he needed to win it.
“I love knowing what I need to do. I don’t really force it; it just makes it easier for me to focus on what has to happen and let it happen. It’s been great this summer. In certain situations I’ve been able to flip a switch and get it done during an important stretch.”
On July 12, Jenkins repeated as the Carolinas Amateur Champion, his third Carolinas Am title in a row. He overcame a two-stroke deficit going into the final round and tied the course-record of 8-under par 64 at Greensboro Country Club’s Farm Course to defeat David Kocher and Davis Womble. He needed a big afternoon, as there were several tied for the lead going into the inward nine.
“It was another one of those situations where I managed to flip a switch and get on a roll on the backside, get a little separation and make it easy coming to the last few holes,” he said.
“That’s been a good tournament for me the last few years. I’ve actually only played it three times,” said Jenkins. “Ever since I started at Kiawah and managed to get the win there it’s been very comfortable. I play with a bunch of guys I’ve competed against in college and junior golf so I feel really comfortable. It’s just one of those events that will always hold a special place in my heart. Especially with the three-peat, having my whole family there with my dad on the bag… it was a lot of fun.”
Just a week later at the Benvenue Country Club in Rocky Mount, NC, Jenkins attempted to qualify for the 115th U.S. Amateur, to be played at Chicago’s Olympia Fields starting August 17th. Playing against a talented field, he shot 65-69 to take Medalist honors and advance to Olympia Fields.
“I’ve attempted three times, but I’ve never made it. It was something that I really wanted to get done, especially going in with the confidence I have. It was nice playing a 36-hole qualifier in one day,” Jenkins admitted. “I was able to play well and shoot a low score during the first round and was able to keep it rolling. I’m very thankful because there are a lot of good players who don’t get through to play in the U. S. Am.”
At end the month, Jenkins played in the prestigious Porter Cup, where he hung around the top of the leaderboard throughout the tournament. During the final round, Jenkins caught fire on the inward nine, posting five birdies to force a playoff with Denny McCarthy. A three-putt cost him the championship, but his great play during the month didn’t escape our notice.
“It was a very comfortable week all week. I played there the year before and I was very relaxed all week, until the final round when I made a couple of terrible double bogeys on par 3s on the front, but managed a birdie on No. 8 on the front that got me within four strokes on the backside. On No. 10, they moved the tee box up on the final day so I drove the green, just going over, and managed to get up and down from there. After a long rain delay, I managed to get birdies on the last two holes for the playoff.”
Jenkins really enjoys playing in the Porter Cup because of the tremendous support the community gives the tournament. There were about 200 people surrounding the green when he made the tying putt on 18 to force extra holes.
Now he has the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields coming up, which starts at the same time his school year begins in Chapel Hill.
“I’ll miss the first few classes for the U.S. Am, but I can make that up,” he said. Once back in North Carolina, the season begins almost immediately, with a busy schedule through October and then the Spring season takes them through May.
“It’ll be ‘go-go-go’ once I get back from the U.S. Am. But we’re really looking forward to this year,” Jenkins said about his Tar Heel golf team. “We have a lot of good talent coming back so we’re excited for what we can do.”
With teammates like Henry Do, Ben Griffin and Zach Martin, all of whom have made headlines with wins this summer, it should be a successful campaign for the Heels.
For Jenkins, the most enjoyable part of the game right now is when he can get together with the same group of friends he’s been playing on the weekends with for awhile, relax out on the course, enjoy the beautiful weather and have a good time.
“When you’re out on the course doing what you love, it doesn’t really get better than that.”
Especially when you have someone like your dad on the bag, helping you along the way.
“We have a nice little thing going together,” Carter said.
HOT IN JULY
Additional hot golfers this past month include Jordan Niebrugge, who finished sixth overall and won the Silver Medal as the low amateur at the Open Championship at St. Andrews. His 11-under score was the lowest score ever by an amateur at the Championship, and he was recently named as the Southern Golf Association’s National Amateur of the Month for July. Others nominated for that award include Southern Amateur winner Taylor Funk and Player’s Amateur winner Matt NeSmith.
Corey Pereira had a great month, winning the Sahalee Player’s Championship and followed up with a win at the inaugural Sierra Player’s Championship. Nick McLaughlin won two big tournaments in a row as well, claiming the Massachusetts Amateur on July 16 and followed up the next weekend with a win at the New England Amateur.