Creston junior and reigning Class 3A state golf champion Carson Whittington is embarking on a nice summer vacation, or business trip.
Whittington, who spent part of his summer last year playing in a tournament at Pinehurst in North Carolina, is headed overseas this year to play in the American High School Championship at St. Andrews.
St. Andrews, also known as the “home of golf” thanks in large part to the founding of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in 1754, is located in Scotland and has been the most frequent host of The Open Championship.
He is one of 54 American high school golfers selected to play in the event. There is a total of 11 females competing in the tournament, as well.
To be selected for the event, Whittington had to be nominated.
“Yeah, we actually got nominated as a team, just not enough players wanted to go,” Whittington said. “I was just the only one who wanted to pay to go.”
Whittington was nominated by Creston/Orient-Macksburg assistant coach Kristopher “Kritter” Hayes.
Hayes, meanwhile, applied to be a chaperone for the event.
After going through what he called an “extensive” phone interview and background checks, Hayes found out the week before the Panthers competed at the Class 3A State Golf Meet that he had been selected to go as a chaperone.
“To be one of four chaperones from across the country, that was awesome to find that out,” Hayes said. “Then, to find out Carson was on one of my teams, too, that’ll be neat.”
Hayes will be coaching two teams in the event, with Whittington competing on the Hayes “A” team.
Whittington’s mother, Kim, and her boyfriend, Scott Borwig, will also be making the trip, providing him with plenty of familiar faces.
Hayes said the tournament is set up like a typical high school meet in the state of Iowa, with an individual component and a team component, taking the four best scores from each team to compile a team score.
It’s a 54-hole tournament, with a practice day on Monday and competition days Tuesday through Thursday.
“The biggest thing, I know, is they’re wanting them to be in the mindset this is a professional tournament they’re playing at,” Hayes said. “There’s golf pros who have endorsed this. The competition is going to be good.”
Hayes noted that all players will be be entered into a lottery system for the chance to play the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Whittington said this experience will likely be a lot different than his experience at Pinehurst last summer.
“It’s definitely going to be much different, because of the weather,” Whittington said. “I guess the environment is going to be different, too, being overseas. Lot of new people I get to meet, too.”
Whittington believes the course should score fairly well, depending on the weather, which as of Thursday morning’s forecast, looked to be temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s each day and sunny.
As for his goals for the event?
“I really don’t know yet,” he said. “It all depends on the weather. I know I have a good chance to be right there. Never leave top 10, I guess.”
Hayes thinks he should set high goals.
“It’s wide open,” Hayes said. “He’s there for a reason. There’s a reason why he was selected to be able to go. He’s playing with guys and gals that are the same caliber of golfers, so he’ll fit right in.”
The official Facebook page of the American High School Championship at St. Andrews will be posting updates throughout the competition. You can like the page at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHighSchoolChampionshipAtStAndrews?fref=ts.