It’s already been a productive golf season for Carson Childress. The LaRue County junior has been in the mix at tournaments all season long, including a Hawks Classic win at My Old Kentucky Home Golf Course in Bardstown back in August.
Now, his attention has turned to the start of postseason play and upcoming region tournament.
“I’m feeling pretty solid. I had a pretty long weekend. I played in the All-State Tournament and we had (Kentucky 2A on Monday),” Childress said last week. “I played pretty well there. I hit the ball well, I just need to touch up my putting a little bit. I haven’t been making as many putts as I want to, but a good week of practice and that should be good going into Region.”
Childress finished last weekend’s Kentucky Golf Coaches Association All-State Tournament in Lexington in 55th place. At the Kentucky 2A State Golf Tournament in Owensboro, he finished in a tie for seventh.
While Childress wants to work on his short game some more ahead of the region tournament, his play as of late has him feeling confident in what he can do elsewhere.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well. Ball striking’s been good,” he said. “My short game hasn’t been looking as good as it was earlier in the season, so I’ll practice that up a little bit and that should be good.”
This extra effort to improve his game has carried Childress far this season. He attributed it to the kind of results he’s already had ahead of the postseason.
“I’ve just been putting a lot of work in on the range and practicing out of E’town Country Club,” he said. “Just the work building up over the year has really helped me going into this season.”
Last year, the Elizabethtown Country Club was the site of a 5th Region Tournament that Childress would like to forget.
Then a sophomore, Childress had already made the Boys’ State Golf Championship as an eighth-grader and a freshman. He would not make it back to Bowling Green Country Club in 2020, shooting an 87 to miss the cut — it was his worst score of the entire season by around six or seven shots, he said.
“I think it was a combination of everything. It was one of those days where everything went wrong and there’s nothing I could really do about it,” Childress said. “Looking back there, it’s taught me a lot.”
Golf is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. For Childress, the biggest adjustment that came out of last year’s region showing was how he approached the game within his own head.
“It’s taught me not to get ahead of myself if I’m in the round and I start out bad. I know I can bounce back easily,” he said. “I think I got too ahead of myself that day and wanted to get it all back in one hole, but this year I think I’m just gonna take it one hole at a time and see what happens.”
These steps to improve his mental focus on the course have already paid off for Childress throughout his 2021 schedule. While last season’s region tournament was a turning point, this is a process that Childress has been working on for years.
“It was mostly mental that day, but just building off that this year, I think I’ve become a lot mentally stronger and just overall mentally and physically stronger,” he said. “I think just year by year, I’ve matured a lot mentally, just knowing over the years I’ve been able to birdie a lot more holes when I start off badly. Just being able to bounce back if I start bad, that’s been huge, just mentally knowing that.”
On the physical side, one of Childress’s primary focuses over the course of the offseason was improving what he could do off the tee. That work has paid off as well and given him more power and accuracy with his driver.
“I’ve gained a little distance and I’ve been pretty consistent lately with the driver,” he said. “That’s been huge, getting off the tee and staying in the fairway. It’s given me a big advantage.”
With his mental focus sharp and the confidence in his game there, Childress hopes to make his return to Bowling Green this year and possibly be in the mix for a region title.
“My goal is win a region, but the main focus is getting to State, having a chance to place the best I can at State,” he said. “Whatever I have to do at region to get there is the goal mainly.”
The Boys’ 5th Region Tournament is Tuesday at Oxmoor Country Club in Louisville.
Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1425 or email@example.com.