Masters Class: Georgia Southern’s Ben Carr Swings for Augusta National

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BEN CARR doesn’t have the best history with the Masters Tournament.

He went to Augusta National Golf Club to watch the event twice as a teenager. Both occasions were Monday practice rounds. They were rained out by 11 a.m. each time, he recalls.

“So I haven’t actually seen much of the course,” says Carr, a fifth-year senior on the golf team at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. “I’ve been on the grounds twice, but every part of the course that I’ve seen has been on TV.”

Despite limited access, the Columbus native has the course memorized.

Photo by TIM COWIE // COURTESY GEORGIA SOUTHERN ATHLETICS

“Just being from Georgia and being a big golfer and a fan of the game, I’m glued to the TV during Masters week,” Carr says.

This year, his viewing habits will change. Carr earned an invitation to play in the 2023 Masters on April 6-9 after reaching the finals of the 122nd U.S. Amateur in August 2022 — only the second finalist ever from Georgia Southern. 

It’s been a long road to make the short drive from Statesboro to Augusta. Carr has spent years honing his skills as an elite junior player and all-state scholastic golfer turned college standout. Due to graduate in May with a degree in business management, Carr has pro golf aspirations.

Carr was one of 7,749 entries attempting to qualify for the 312 berths in the 2022 U.S. Amateur championship field. Then he advanced from two rounds of stroke play through six rounds of match play in Paramus, New Jersey.

Texas A&M’s Sam Bennett, then No. 3 in the World Golf Amateur Ranking, edged Carr, then No. 70, by one hole in the 36-hole final at Ridgewood Country Club. They both collected an exemption into the 2023 U.S. Open on June 15-18 in Los Angeles and the coveted invite to Augusta National. 

Georgia Southern men’s golf coach Carter Collins with Ben Carr // Photo by AJ HENDERSON // COURTESY USGA

Georgia Southern coach Carter Collins marvels at Carr’s ability to remain cool under pressure. The coach praises Carr’s talent, work ethic and smarts, and he describes Carr as “stoic” compared to some of his more animated peers.

“Ben’s more of a duck on the pond. He’s calmly swimming across the water. But those feet are kicking,” Collins says. “You just can’t see them.”

It might be a long shot for Carr to don the green jacket among golf’s greatest players, but he says it would be “cool” to make the cut and post the lowest amateur score because it meant he played well. 

There’s another thing he’d like to do.

“If I left Augusta National without making some sort of effort to talk to Tiger [Woods], I would really regret it,” he says.