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According to Dennis Carson, he was "predestined" to become a golfer.
If his early years are any indication, he is correct in that assessment.
"When I was pre-school age, my grandfather made me a little cut down putter that never left my hands," said Carson, now a senior at Serra High School in San Mateo. "I loved putting down the hall carpet, even before school. My mom recalls many mornings of "Tug-of-War" with that putter. As I got older I would chip balls over the couch and into a wastebasket."
Carson would go on to become a junior member at Green Hills Country at the age of 8, and spent many rounds at the local courses such as Lake Merced, Peninsula, Poplar Creek and Crystal Springs. He would often spend nights practicing under the lights at Mariners Point until close, a practice he continues today.
That kind of dedication led to Carson becoming one of the top junior golfers in Northern California, playing in an estimated 100+ Junior Golf Association of Northern California events and racking up a slew of victories.
But it was his junior year spent at the IMG/Leadbetter Academy that allowed Carson to make the leap.
"It was a big expense for us," his father, Bruce Carson told the San Francisco Chronicle of the academy's tuition and boarding costs. "But I wanted him to be the best he could be. I wanted him to take it as far as he could."
It was there, in Bradenton, Fla, that coach David Madras attempted to remake the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Carson's swing into something resembling a golfer of similar stature, Ernie Els. Living 3,000 miles from home also prepared him for what awaits next fall, when he heads to UC Davis on scholarship.
"The Leadbetter Academy was the best thing I could have done for my golf game, half day school, half day golf with my coach, David Madras," said Carson. "As a junior in high school, living that far from home is not for everyone, for me it was good preparation for college. It took awhile for my stroke changes to click, but I'm playing confidently with my new swing now."
That new swing led Carson to an individual championship at his high school's West Coast Athletic League Tournament, a league-best 34.6 nine-hole scoring average and an All-League selection. More recently he reached the final-16 at the San Francisco City Championship (he fell to eventual champ Martin Trainer 2 & 1) and a T-26th finish at the Alameda Commuters with a total of 5-over-289.
Next year he will take his talents to UC Davis.
"I had some good choices of Div I colleges, but I chose Davis because of (Head) Coach (Cy) Williams, (Assistant) Coach (Todd) Hammond, and the team felt like a good fit," said Carson. "I liked the campus, the people, and the strong academic program of a UC. I plan to major in Economics. Coach Williams put together a solid roster for next season. The Davis team continues to move up the rankings, and I expect next year we'll do the same."