MOORESVILLE—Lake Norman’s Kathryn Carson knew fairly early in the recruiting process where she wanted to attend college. In December of last year, she spurned a handful of other scholarship offers and committed to East Carolina.
It wasn’t all about golf.
“ECU has a great biology program,” said Carson, whose career interests revolve around the medical field. “I’m also good friends with several people already on the ECU golf team, so that was a big deal, and coach (Kevin) Williams is amazing. The best there is, I think.”
She reports to Greenville next year with a solid high school résumé in tow. The senior added more to it this fall.
With a scoring average of 37, she won the North Piedmont Conference championship, finishing 13 strokes ahead of the second-place finisher in the season-long standings en route to being named the NPC player of the year.
“I’ve been very impressed with Kathryn’s ability to lock in and realize where a course is setting up a player for mistakes,” said her high school coach, Martin Kirby. “Her skills in analyzation have deepened, and her ability to see this aspect of course management allows her to know where she can and cannot hit the ball from tee to green in order to score.”
Carson, named the R&L County Girls Golfer of the Year for the second time in as many years, excelled beyond the regular season.
In October, Carson defended her 4A West region championship by shooting a 72 at the newly remodeled Mooresville Golf Course to win the event by two strokes.
“I went into it knowing I’d have to beat Keri Kenkel (Charlotte Catholic),” Carson said. “I was extremely focused that week and just tried to play my game. She and I were paired together. I knew where she was and what I had to do to win.”
Carson found herself only four shots out of the lead entering the final round of the 4A state tournament at Pinehurst Country Club. She carded a 3-over-par 75 in the opening round.
A 78 on the second day left her tied for seventh, 11 strokes behind the winner and 10 behind Kenkel, the runner-up.
“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself,” said Carson, the 2015 4A state runner-up. “I think I tried to force the win rather than let it happen and being patient. I tried to birdie every hole instead of waiting on the good shots to happen on their own.”
Back-to-back top 10s in the state tournament is nothing to be ashamed of, Carson acknowledged. Most would wear the accomplishment as a badge of honor.
Coming up short of the goal to win a state title, in her mind, left something to be desired.
“A lot of people have congratulated me on my finishes,” Carson said. “It’s not that I was unhappy. I just wanted a better result. It’s frustrating when you don’t put all the pieces together.”
There is more competitive golf in her future before her college career tees off.
Carson, the fourth-ranked player in the N.C. junior girls division by Tar Heel Youth Golf Association, was invited to play in Dustin Johnson’s World Junior Golf Championship Feb. 24-26 at TPC Myrtle Beach. She also expects to enter several other big tournaments in the summer.
The hope, she said, is that those events help continue to prepare her for the next level. The competition amongst her East Carolina teammates will be a stiff test in itself. The Pirates have 11 NCAA Regional appearances in the program’s 16-year history. Carson hopes to be a factor in furthering that excellence as a freshman.
“That’s definitely my goal,” she said. “I want to be a big contributor to that team.”
ALL-COUNTY GIRLS GOLF TEAM
Megan Bornkamp, Mooresville
Madison Brown, Lake Norman
Kathryn Carson, Lake Norman
Zoe Hambley, Mooresville
Charleigh Hodges, Lake Norman
Talon LaClair, West Iredell
Lauren Martin, Mooresville
Maggie Martin, North Iredell
Maelyn Southers, South Iredell
Lauren Whatley, Lake Norman