Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

October 16, 2012

Golfing for Dori

Community raises money for local pro golfer in Pro-Am with fellow LPGA players

VALDOSTA — The First annual Dori Carter Pro-Am Golf Tournament presented by First Federal Savings of Valdosta was held Monday at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.

The event raised close to $11,000 for Carter, a Valdosta native that competes on the professional LPGA Tour. Nine teams of four competed in the event and each team was joined by a current LPGA golfer — one team had two LPGA players — that volunteered their time to participate in the event.

“Words cannot describe what it means to have the support of your entire community,” said Carter on Monday. “Without their support, I don’t know where I would be.”

In Monday’s event, all five players (LPGA player included) played their own ball for the entirety of the round. At the completion of every hole, the two lowest scores of the five were recorded to account for the gross score. A net score, which included handicaps, was also kept. The top three teams from each division were awarded with prizes following the round.

Carter’s team, comprised of Wes Brunn, Randy Stallings, Hansell Bearden, and Morris Hester, posted the lowest net score at 115.

The team of Tyler Willett, Brock McDowell, Brad Adams, Bubba Highsmith and LPGA professionals Lauren Doughtie and Garrett Phillips shot a net score of 121.

The team of Wade Coleman, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, Robin Coleman, Chuck Steel and LPGA professional Cydney Clanton shot a 122, along with the team of Doug Rayford, Miles Hannan, Steve Seward, David Matthews (who shot a 64 with his own ball) and LPGA player Katie Burnett.

Burnett’s team also posted the lowest gross score of the day (125), while the team led by Doughtie and Phillips finished with a gross score of 132.

The team of Todd Grow, Stuart Mullis, Mabry Smith, Byron Courson and professional Lacey Agnew finished with a gross score of 136.

Monday’s event was formed by First Federal Savings of Valdosta to help raise money for Carter. With the money raised, a financial burden will be taken off Carter for various expenses while traveling on Tour. The event was kick-started with a dinner and auction Sunday night. Each team had an opportunity to bid on the LPGA players for Monday’s round.

“I was just overwhelmed with the nine teams that came to that (dinner) and all were here this morning for the shotgun start,” Carter said. “I was up there thanking everyone and I was so nervous, but so excited. I am just so thankful for it.”

Carter said the costs of traveling is the toughest part of being a professional golfer.

“With the way the economy is, it is tough to find sponsors to cover all your expenses — when you can’t find a corporate sponsor,” Carter said. “I was able to reach out to the community and the people at First Federal offered to host his event and just raise a little bit of money.

“We have a lot of expenses on Tour. We fly to almost every event, hotels, meals, caddy expenses. It just adds up. You can spend quite a bit. So this is huge.”

A graduate of Valdosta High School, Carter played her collegiate golf at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. Following graduation, Carter competed on the Futures Tour for one-year before playing her way onto the LPGA through qualifying school.

Now, Carter competes in around 20 LPGA tournaments a year. Her best career finish came last month when she finished tied for 14th in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala. With the strong close to the season, Carter was able to retain her Tour card and she will be a member of the LPGA next season.

“I finished tied for 14th a couple of weeks ago in Alabama and that put me 99th on the money list, and you have to finish top 100 to keep your Tour card,” Carter explained. “Fortunately, I do not have to go back to qualifying school. So now I have time to work on things and I have a true offseason to get ready for next year, which begins in February.”

With her play improving, Carter still wouldn’t say whether she thinks her first career win was lurking in the near future. Instead, she said she is excited about the upcoming 2013 season.

“Baby steps,” Carter said. “I’m working my way there. I’m getting these top 20’s, which is huge. I am excited about next year because I finished this year well in a strong tournament. So that kind of gives you confidence and I am trying to think more big picture things — like this is my career.

“I’m just going to try and keep improving each year and hopefully that win and things like that will be more frequent.”

Currently located at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, located just off Lake Oconee, Carter said he frequently visits Valdosta and plays Kinderlou and the Valdosta Country Club.

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