Six-year-old Bradford boy Carter Stephen is a golf champ, coming in first place at the U.S. Kids Golf tournament in Niagara Falls earlier this month.
For Carter, golf has always been a big part of his life.
Since he could walk he has been hitting balls in the basement and perfecting his game at Bradford Highlands golf course. His father Scott has also been training with him every chance he gets.
This summer he was part of a golf camp at Lionshead Golf Course in Brampton where PGA Canada golfer and performance coach Bradley Ryall took note of his talent and invited him to enter the U.S. Kids Golf Canadian invitational tournament at Legends on the Niagara course Aug. 16-17.
U.S. Kids Golf Foundation's mission is to help kids have fun learning the lifelong game of golf.
"Because he already had a pretty good score shooting between 35 and 40, they accepted his invite right away," explained mom Jacquie Ridout.
There were five children he competed against at the tournament in the 6 and under division.
After two rounds of nine holes, he had a score of 80. He won the game by six strokes.
"That's a really low score for his age," said Jacquie.
Carter was so excited with the first-place trophy he slept with it that night, his mom laughed.
When he got home from the tournament, his grandparents were ready and waiting with balloons to celebrate.
Throughout COVID, Carter was able to work on his game at home with a golf simulator set up in the basement, as well as a three-hole mini-putt. Once the weather got warmer, he practiced outside at a local park before golf courses opened for the season.
"He and his dad were there (golf course) on the first day (of opening)," said Jacquie.
Carter and Scott often play rounds of golf together, and Carter will often fill in as a fourth player when needed when Scott plays with friends.
"And he keeps up," said Jacquie. "Since COVID, I think a lot of young kids have taken up golf because it's an independent sport."
Carter is looking forward to taking part in the U.S. Kids Golf Niagara Falls Tour every Sunday in September.
By golfing in that tour, he will get points that will go towards invites to other tournaments in the U.S. Kids Golf tournaments, including a World Championship Tour.
"Chances are, he already earned his invite (for the World Championship), COVID-pending," said Jacquie.
The World Championship takes place next summer in North Carolina.
"It will be a fun road trip," said Jacquie.
Carter is headed to Grade 2 this fall and is excited to share his experience with his classmates.
He says he feels good about his win and is looking forward to the rest of the season.