DeKALB – For the past two years, Emma Carpenter has turned a disappointing end to a season into a life lesson.
After missing the state tournament in 2017, she trained harder than she ever had in the offseason. And after a fluke scorecard error disqualified her from state this season, she’s learned another lesson.
“There’s nothing you can do,” the DeKalb senior said. “You move forward.”
Carpenter earned the Daily Chronicle Girls Golf Player of the Year Award for the third straight season after getting back to the state tournament.
Coach John Cordes said Carpenter shot an 80 in the first round on a cold, wet and windy day at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur, which would have put her in 24th place going into Day 2.
Normally, a scorer’s table is set up, and an official goes over each hole with the players to make sure there were no discrepancies. This time, however, there was no official. Carpenter ended up signing a card that had her with a 5 on the 11th hole instead of a 6.
“Obviously, it was a big learning experience, a very humbling experience,” Carpenter said. “All the support I’ve had and all the people who have reached out, my coaches supporting me through it all, it really helps me. I know it’s just the beginning of my career. Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it to.”
Cordes said he’s been impressed with how Carpenter handled the situation.
“Like she does with everything else, she handled it with a lot of class,” Cordes said. “She’s just a classy person. She didn’t show it to other people. She said, ‘It’s my fault,’ and took responsibility for what happened and moved forward.”
Moving forward means getting ready to continue her career at the University of Minnesota, something she said she is incredibly excited about.
“I can’t even explain my excitement,” Carpenter said. “I just had my official visit [Oct. 26 and 27], and it was so much fun. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m going to be going there. I think the school is just so amazing. The coaches, my teammates, they really couldn’t be any more perfect.”
Carpenter earned her trip to state with a second-place finish in the sectional. She averaged a 39 for nine holes this season playing off the same tees as the boys.
Cordes said that actually put her at a little bit of a disadvantage in the postseason when she went back to playing off the girls’ tees.
“A lot of people would feel it’s an advantage because it would feel so much easier,” Carpenter said. “But in reality, it’s a whole different game. I’m used to hitting iron into greens and now I’m hitting wedges. The whole approach game is different, and it’s something I haven’t worked on all season.”
And while it may have hurt her in the postseason, she said she expects it to be beneficial when her collegiate career begins.
“Obviously, my four years are going to be different from almost any other girl golfer because I played on the boys team,” Carpenter said. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I made some amazing friends. I think I grew as a player in a lot of different ways.”
Cordes said Carpenter will be missed by the team next year.
“She’s a team player,” Cordes said. “She’s positive with everybody. She’s constructive toward people who need help. She’s infectious with her smile. People like to gravitate toward her. Beyond that, her God-given talent – she’s just a talented golfer. As far as the golf scores, the golf talent, immeasurable. As far as a teammate and/or a player a coach can count on, 100 percent one of the best.”