The world’s most famous golfer is named Tiger.
However, a local Tiger is joining the pro golf ranks.
Fred T. Foard’s Christian Carpenter decided to forgo his senior season of prep golf to pursue a career on the course.
Carpenter was granted a one-year exemption by the National Golf Association Pro Tour. He will play in the Carolina Series.
Established in 1988, the NGA Pro Tour is one of the longest running developmental tours in golf.
“I take my opportunities when they are there,” Carpenter said of his decision to turn pro. “I had big opportunities with Wilson Staff wanting to jump on board. The guy who runs the NGA said he was going to help me out a little bit, too. I’m taking my open doors. I’m not getting away from the golf team at Foard, but I’m playing and getting some practice time in with the players at Foard.”
Carpenter first made the decision to turn pro back in Dec. 18, 2012 — 13 years to the day he set the first of his two world records.
At age 4, Carpenter entered the Guinness Book of World Records — becoming the youngest player to ever record a hole-in-one.
Carpenter sunk the shot on Dec. 18, 1999 at Henry River Golf Club in Mountain View.
His hole-in-one record still stands today.
Carpenter also owns the world record for lowest score in 18 holes on a short course for a male golfer.
At 12, Carpenter fired a 16-under par 54 round on Oct. 7, 2007 during a tournament at Henry River.
Carpenter said his hole-in-one stands out above both records.
“I don’t remember much about that day, but I remember that shot,” Carpenter said. “It’s one of the first things I remember. It was a simple day on the golf course. I hit a really good shot. I didn’t see where it really went. My dad watched the whole time. It just sort of kicked me into golf real quick. I got addicted to the game.”
Carpenter may have experienced his best year of golf in 2012.
He shot a course-record 60 at Catawba Country Club en route to winning his second-straight North Carolina Western District Optimist Qualifier.
“That really did it in for me,” said Carpenter, who credits that record as a big reason for turning pro. “I made that last putt on No. 18, which I would say was a 55- to 60-foot birdie putt. I was trying to lag it up, and it went in to finish my birdie streak at six-straight birdies.”
Carpenter also finished in a tie for first at the Greater Hickory High School Classic at Rock Barn — part of the course’s Champions Tour weekly events.
That finish allowed him to compete in the 10th Dale Jarrett Celebrity Shootout on a captain’s choice team with pro golfer Jerry Pate, NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett and former Washington Redskins quarter Joe Theismann.
The quartet eventually won the Shootout with a 9-under-par score.
Carpenter said advice from Theismann, as well as his strong play last year, both helped play into his decision to turn pro.
“My game really came in over the summer,” he said. “Some people had asked me questions about if I was going to go to college to play or if I was going to go ahead and turn pro after high school. When I played in the Shootout with Joe Theismann, we talked about it the whole time.”
Carpenter originally planned to play his first NGA tournament in April, but has pushed his debut to the second week of June.
As far as sponsorships, Carpenter has been labeled a Wilson Staff Developmental Player, but he is still looking for more sponsors to help grow his professional golf career.
“We’re still looking,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of months to finalize a few things. We’ve got a few things in the works.”
Awaiting his June debut in NGA Pro Tour, Carpenter’s role has changed from player to mentor with the Fred T. Foard golf team.
A three-time 3A state tournament qualifier and All-Northwestern 3A/4A selection, Carpenter is now trying to give back to the golfers at Foard while he awaits his anticipated first NGA Carolina Series tournament.
“The only thing I do differently now is I go up, practice with the team and play nine holes with them,” he said. “Our team ranges from people who have never played before to people who have played a lot. The tips really vary from basic tips to how to strike a golf ball down the fairway and green to simple tips that could help them with their game throughout their life like I’ve learned at Hampton Heights.”