Golf wasn’t necessarily at the top of the priority list eight years ago when Clarkie Carroll first fell ill, but the sport served him well as a motivator as he endured months of treatment and rehabilitation.
Carroll, 18, who just graduated from Saratoga Springs High School, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2013. He underwent months of chemotherapy, after which the tumor was removed at Boston Children’s Hospital. “He had the top half of his femur removed and cadaver bone and titanium implant put in,” explained his father, Dave.
That’s the backstory to what has become a promising golf career. Carroll, a Times Union high school first team all-star, shot an 8-under-par 64 at the Northeastern New York PGA Junior Championships in the Town of Colonie earlier this month. His win earned him a trip to the PGA Boys Junior Championship July 12-15 at Kearney Hill in Lexington, Kentucky.
“That led me to golf,” he said of his condition. “I probably wouldn’t have played golf if I hadn’t gotten sick. I’m glad it took me there because I really like it.”
He played some golf before the diagnosis, but Carroll’s main sport was lacrosse. That was off the table after the cancer showed up.
“During treatment, he played (golf),” said Dave Carroll. “It kept him cerebral, it kept him competitive. It gave him something to look forward to. He could have gone down that road: ‘Poor me. Woe is me. The world is against me.’ As parents, we didn’t let that happen. It really fell on him, and he decided to go the other way. He got hungrier and stronger with all the treatments.”
His fight got a lot of attention. Carroll was featured in a 2014 YouTube trick video that has been viewed nearly 50,000 times. He received the 2018 Mary Ann Raymond Donnelly Fighting Spirit Award for inspiring others.
Carroll was groomed in a Saratoga golf program that has won three consecutive Section II Class A Championships. (It probably would have been four if COVID-19 hadn’t canceled the 2020 tournament.) One of his teammates, 2020 Times Union Boy’s Golf Athlete of the Year Will Braxton, shot a 63 in the Suburban Council Championships.
Like many of the Blue Streaks, Carroll took lessons with Anders Mattson of the Anders Mattson Golf Academy in Saratoga Springs.
“It was the summer of my 2019 sophomore to junior year,” said Carroll, who has yet to flesh out his plans for college. “Then it started clicking in golf and I got some confidence and started shooting better scores. It was a lot of short game, and it was distance too. I got a little bigger and stronger. It definitely helped to put in shorter clubs have (on approach shots) but short game is everything it took me a while to believe people when they told them to practice short game but once i did it started clicking.
“The boy is incredibly competitive,” said his father. “He got a second life and he realizes it. He definitely wants to have the whole experience. The competitive juices are something that won’t go away.”
Carroll is one of four locals playing in an American Junior Golf Association event this week in Killington, Vt. After Tuesday the first round of the 54-hole tournament, Jimmy King van Niskayuna is 11th (2-over 73), Carroll 30th (77), brayden dock of Queensbury 37th (80) and Matthew McClenon from Niskayuna 49th (91). … AJ Cavotta, the 2019 Times Union boy’s golf athlete of the year, freshman at Southern New Hampshire, was voted Rookie of the Year in the Northeast-10.
Registrations close on Wednesday for the Staatsamateur, which will be played in Schuyler Meadows from August 10-12. That’s also the entry deadline for the 15-18 boys’ division of the State Junior on July 27-28 at Seven Oaks in Hamilton. Qualifications for both events will take place simultaneously on July 6 in Colonie. … Deadline in the boys 14-under and girls divisions of the State Junior is July 8.
Coble Skill: Free golf clinics for third graders and above are offered on Monday mornings. Times are 9-10 am and 10:30-11:30 am The first clinic is July 12, 19 and 26, the second August 2, 9 and 16. Call 518 234-4045 to register.
Saratoga Lake: The course turns its front nine into a par-3 course for a Sunday afternoon tournament. Call the golf shop (518-581-6616) to sign up.
A three-year men’s golf qualification process for next month’s Olympics in Tokyo has ended. Jon Rahm, is number 1 after his US Open victory, followed by four Americans: Justin thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau. The US is the only country with more than two qualifications. No country may have more than four players. The women’s rankings will be finalized next week, after which the International Golf Federation will send confirmation to the National Olympic Committees. The final list of Olympic golfers will be available on July 6.