For some kids, they know at a young age they want to play the sport they love for a long time. For Hudson Carpenter, that sport didn’t start out as golf.
Growing up in Stillwater, Minnesota, Carpenter was a diehard Twins fan and found a passion for playing baseball at a young age. He played as much as he could, emulating Derek Jeter’s signature jump-throw across the infield of Yankee Stadium in his own backyard. He wished he could follow in his footsteps as a professional ballplayer someday. As he finished little league and entered high school, Carpenter was showing promise on the diamond.
But when he was 15, he was abruptly forced out of baseball. He had torn his shoulder and required surgery that ended his career just as it was beginning. It was a devastating blow to Carpenter, who was looking forward to making the varsity Ponies squad at the time.
However, as one door closed, another opened. Despite the injury, he was told that he would be able to play golf when he recovered from surgery. There was just one problem: he had hardly ever touched a golf club.
“I had played just for fun, but I was terrible. [Golf] wasn’t a part of my life at all,” he said. “So my dad started taking me out to the course and that’s when I really started to enjoy it. I had always thought of golf as an old man’s game—I think everyone sort of thinks that until you get out there and do it for yourself.”
Once he got playing, it didn’t take him long to get into the swing of things.
“I got obsessed with the process of just getting better,” Carpenter said. “In the span of about a year I went from a guy who couldn’t break 100 to a scratch golfer.”
Over the next three years, he consistently kept improving. Carpenter drew attention from Division I golf coaches by the time he was a junior in high school. After graduating in 2010, he took his talents to South Dakota to play for SDSU.
With the Jackrabbits, Carpenter improved his scoring average by a stroke per year, finishing with a career average of 74.14—good for third on the school’s all-time list. He holds the school record for most rounds in a year (111) and most wins in a season (2) and is tied for first with 15 career top-10 finishes.
Carpenter graduated in December of 2015 and immediately took the next step to play professionally. In 2016, he competed on the North Star Tour—a “mini tour” comprised of five tournaments at various courses in Minnesota. He competed in four of the five and won twice, ending the tour atop the prize money list and in first place with 1162.5 points—nearly 400 points more than the runner-up. After the dominant year, he was named the 2016 North Star Tour Player of the Year. He also played five events in the Dakotas Tour, where he picked up a win in the North Dakota Open.
As he continues his career, Carpenter is playing in the Mackenzie Tour in Canada in 2017. He hopes to finish in the top 25 which would earn him a spot in the final stage of Q-School to play for a spot on the Web.com Tour.
Carpenter’s ability to turn a deflating injury into an opportunity to excel at something new is what makes him an UNRL athlete. When Plan A didn’t work out, he found a way to turn Plan B into something great.