• Columbia golfer Tiara Carter swings a practice shot during Thursday’s practice (ERIC JACKSON/Lake City Reporter).
    Columbia golfer Tiara Carter swings a practice shot during Thursday’s practice (ERIC JACKSON/Lake City Reporter).

GIRLS GOLF: The final course for Carter

Carter eyes state in her final year at Columbia.

Another school year opens with hundreds of students eager to get back around their friends for what they hope will be a fulfilling semester this fall at Columbia.

This is true for nobody more than the seniors, who are entering the final chapter of their high school careers. Tiara Carter is part of that 2019 class and – like most of her peers – wants to make the most of her finals days wearing the purple and gold.

She will carry that same mentality to the golf course as she looks to break through and qualify for the state finals for the first time. After coming up short at regionals the last three seasons, Carter is
determined to accomplish her ultimate goal.

"I've come up short by like two shots every year," she said. "Hopefully I can get it this year. Last year at regionals, I lost by two shots. I was supposed to shoot 70 and I shot 72. It just makes me (feel) like 'ugh, come on'."

Carter says her shortcomings at regionals have added fuel to her fire this season.

"I just really want to get to state, so hopefully I make it,” she said

Carter has all the tools to make it happen, her coaches say, but the competition isn't going to get any easier in 2018. The senior standout will have to be even more on her toes as the Lady Tigers transition into a tougher league in District 2-3A this year.

"She just needs to practice her short game," Columbia assistant golf coach Tammy Richards said. "Short game is a major part of the scoring process. Even if you're hitting the ball bad, as long as (she) has a strong short game, she can go all the way. She's going to have to shoot under par probably."

Carter, who has anchored the girls team since her freshman year, will carry the load again in her final year playing alongside a handful of newbies. While her teammates aren't as passionate about the game as her, Carter enjoys competing with the girls who she says are light-hearted and always lift her spirits with a joke.

Despite her deep passion for golf – a game she's been involved with since she was a youngster – Carter insists she's an ordinary teenage girl who likes to hang out at football games and attend social outings with friends. Those are among many things she plans to soak up before it's over.

"I just want have fun really," she said. "And try to make this senior year last."

Carter has envisioned herself playing women's college golf for years, and it won't be long before that's a reality. It's all coming fast – a little too fast, if you ask her.

"I'm cherishing it all, because I am not ready to leave. Like I don't really want to go to college (yet) but I got to. I just don't want to leave home."

Carter has interest in Seminole State College, University of North Florida and Florida Southern, among other schools. But before leaves home next year to embark on a new life journey, she wants to take care of some unfinished business.

She wants to go to state.

"I want her to practice hard and give it everything she's got," said Richards, a former star golfer at Columbia. "When I was a senior, it was every day, practice, practice, practice. You get out of school, do your homework and stay at the course until dark (especially) to get the scholarship that she wants, wherever she decides to go."Columbia golfer Tiara Carter swings a practice shot during Thursday’s practice.

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