High school golf preview: Carter has drive to make it big

2011-09-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T09:44:13Z High school golf preview: Carter has drive to make it bigMichael J. Craven Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 08, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Jordan Carter is tired of people using the "p" word to describe her golf game.

It's not that she sees her huge upside as a bad thing. The problem is that "people are starting to know me for my potential," Carter said.

"It's kind of driving me crazy right now."

If she can reach what she and many others believe she's capable of, the 17-year-old Cienega senior has an opportunity to make it big.

To get there, she'll need to utilize another "p" word: patience.

A co-state champion in Division II last season, Carter can already drive the ball farther than the majority of LPGA Tour pros. She carded an 18-hole 65 during a tournament at Dell Urich over the summer and says she's capable of shooting in the 60s in any given round.

The key now is doing it consistently. If she can continue to clean up her short game and improve her course management skills, the sky seems the limit.

Here are a few more "p" words to describe some of Carter's current strengths and weaknesses as she looks ahead to another possible state title and beyond:

• Power: Carter's swing coach, Kene Bensel, believes her power is hereditary, describing it as "a blessing."

Others might use words such as "incredible," "outstanding" or "where in the world did the ball go?"

Carter, who stands 5-7 and describes her body type as athletic (though some just call her skinny), averages around 260 yards off the tee, hitting the 270s and 280s on a regular basis and touching 290 from time to time.

In comparison, Michelle Wie, the longest-hitting American on tour, is averaging roughly 267 yards this season. The overall tour average is 248.

If she joined the LPGA Tour today, "Jordan would be in the top 10percent in driving distance," said Bensel, who also coaches the swing of last year's Division I state champion Kyung Kim from Chandler Hamilton.

"And if she thinks she's long now, wait till she gets to college. She'll be hitting 290 regularly."

• Poise: Carter has been golfing since age 7, when her dad, Mike (a collegiate football player at Texas State), decided to take advantage of some "dirt cheap" greens fees in Thailand, where the family was living for work.

However, Bensel says it was just 14 short months ago that Carter made the decision to completely dedicate herself to golf.

"After that, she became happier on the course," Bensel said. "The improvement since then has been dramatic."

For Carter, focus and visualization have become as important (or more so) than her swing. As a result, some of her best rounds have come in the past year.

"I know my game, and in order to play really well, I just have to have a really good mind-set," Carter said.

• Precision: Carter's lack of an ultra-precise short game is her top concern and, perhaps, the main thing separating her from a golfer like Kim, who used her impeccable accuracy to qualify for the 2011 U.S. Open (where Bensel was her caddie).

In fact, Carter says she would trade her power for a "much shorter drive" if it meant attaining Kim's short game.

A player like Carter "could dominate the game" if her short game came together, Bensel said.

Carter realizes this and as a result has seized work on her drive, choosing instead to focus solely on course management.

The area that needs the most work is Carter's pitching (mainly shots from about 120 yards) because her long drives on par-4s so often leave her with that distance.

In a recent conversation with Colorado State coach Angie Collier (the Rams are recruiting Carter), Bensel described Carter as "a diamond in the rough."

Perhaps a little polishing could turn potential into predominance.

2011 watch list

Boys

Billy Comeaux, Jr., Sabino

Logan France, Sr., Canyon del Oro

Andrew Gunn, Sr., Catalina Foothills

Anthony Moncada, Sr., Tucson

Scott Morrison, Sr., Catalina Foothills

C.J. Padilla, Jr., Flowing Wells

Vytas Rutelionis, Sr., Sabino

Austin Sverdrup, Sr., Ironwood Ridge

Trent Terry, So., Salpointe Catholic

Jamie Waltmire, Jr., Canyon del Oro

Girls

Jordan Carter, Sr., Cienega

Kirsti Grau, Sr., Cienega

Adrianna Grijalva, Jr., Ironwood Ridge

Desiree Hong, Fr., Sahuaro

Natassja Meredith, So., St. Gregory

Morgan Messick, Fr., Canyon del Oro

Krystal Quihuis, So., Salpointe Catholic

Shireen Singh, Jr., Catalina Foothills

Tess Terry, Sr., Salpointe Catholic

Brianna Vogel, Jr., Salpointe Catholic

Selections made by Star staff in consultation with area coaches

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