Washington’s Brad Carpenter made his first experience at the MSHSAA golf championships a memorable one.
Playing in the Class 4 state tournament last Monday and Tuesday at Silo Ridge Golf & Country Club in Bolivar, Carpenter tied for third-place individual honors with rounds of 72 and 73 for a 36-hole total of 145, just one stroke over par.
“I know I can play well, but I wasn’t expecting to finish as high as I did,” said Carpenter, a sophomore at WHS. “It was a fun experience. I was nervous on the first hole of the first day, but I birdied it and started to feel better. Having Colbey (Schuster) and Coach (Tim) Buschmann there helped. Both of them were pretty loose. Coach doesn’t put any pressure on us.”
Schuster also played solid golf, finishing in a tie for 30th place with 81-77-158.
“Colbey did a great job. He had a good second day,” Carpenter said. “He’s so laid back. Nothing seems to bother him.”
In his 36 holes at the state tournament, Carpenter carded 23 pars, seven bogeys and six birdies.
“That’s pretty consistent,” Carpenter said with a smile. “I hit my tee shots and my irons well. That’s my biggest strength. I placed my approach shots in the right tier of the greens, which helped. I putted better than I normally do. That’s usually my weakness. I had a good sense of the greens. They were fast, which is what I like.”
Carpenter made an impression during the state tournament.
“Several coaches who have never seen Brad commented on his style of play and what a talented golfer he is at such a young age. All of them were impressed with his length and touch around the green,” said WHS Coach Tim Buschmann. “Brad’s comment after day one was that he scrambled well — meaning he wasn’t always in the place he wanted to be, but finished the hole well.”
Carpenter’s best shot of the tournament came on hole No. 6 in the first round.
“It was a par-5 and I drove my tee shot to the right up against the out-of-bounds fence post. It was unplayable, which cost me a stroke. I took a drop and was 230 or 240 yards out with water in front of the green. I went for the green with a three wood. I’m sure my parents were wondering what in the world I was doing. I hit it about 250 yards to the back of the green and made par. It was a great shot. I was already one-over at that point. A bogey or worse would have put me two or three over par.”
Carpenter put himself in contention with an even-par 72 on Monday.
“I got a lot of advice and a lot of good lucks after the first day. I heard from Hunter Parrish (former standout WHS golfer) and Coach (Chip) Sodemann (WHS basketball coach),” Carpenter said. “Colbey and I went out for pizza. That took my mind off it a little.”
Playing in the second-to-last foursome on Tuesday, Carpenter fired a round of 73 to secure all-state honors.
“The guys I played with Tuesday were all fun to be with and all of us played well, which really helps,” Carpenter said. “I did my best to stay collected. My dad instilled that in me. It was a great feeling to know that I was all-state.”
Carpenter, who owns a 1.9 handicap on the golf course, crushes the ball off the tee, despite not being the biggest of people.
“I hit my driver pretty well, usually 300 to 310 yards,” he said. “My swing speed is around 115. It goes a long way.”
Also a standout basketball player at WHS, where he is one of the top three-point shooters in the area, Carpenter will continue to work on his golf during the summer.
“I’m going to play in AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments throughout the state and the Midwest,” Carpenter said. “My ultimate goal is to play golf in college.”
In the meantime, Carpenter still has two years remaining at WHS.
“Getting our entire team to state would be huge. It’s tough in Class 4 with teams like Rock Bridge in our district,” Carpenter said. “I’m just going to try to keep improving my game.”
Kevin and Janet Carpenter, Brad’s parents, followed him throughout the state tournament.
“They were very thrilled,” Brad said.