Commitment over COVID-19

Senior golfer signs despite challenges

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Photo by Abby Elliott

Carter Maneth hits his ball onto the green from the fairway at the Tiger Classic earlier this year. Maneth has committed to play golf in college after high school.

Story by Graci Henard, staff writer

As senior Carter Maneth walked down the fairway on the final hole of his last Tiger Classic, he knew all he had to do was par and win the tournament by nine strokes. He had dreamed of this win since he was a child. This moment in particular, however, was the moment Maneth was sure he was good enough to continue his golfing career in college. The Classic, hosted by the Tigers at Texarkana Country Club, was not the only time he was reassured of his talent, though.

“The Classic was the main tournament when I thought I could play at the collegiate level,” Maneth said. “But when I won the final round [at the Texas Rangers Golf Club and] shot 67, that’s when I knew for sure I could [play collegiate golf].”

Although his dreams for playing at the next level were proven true with his multiple offers, this recruitment season has been challenging for the aspiring young golfer. With COVID-19 arriving in the U.S. in March, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) closed off recruiting over the summer and through April of 2021. In doing so, a recruiting dead period had begun, creating new rules both coaches and players were obligated to follow.

“I would have been able to go on more visits [without the summer dead period] and have coaches watch,” Maneth said.

It’s been hard to be recruited right now because [college coaches] can’t do anything. They can’t come watch, you can’t go visit. It’s only for division one schools — which doesn’t make any sense.”

— Carter Maneth, senior

Finally, after months of uncertainty, Maneth finally found where he wanted to continue his craft: Middle Tennessee State University. His offer, much like the challenges he faced during recruiting, caught him off guard at first. 

“I wasn’t expecting him to offer me that night. I was kind of just expecting another one of the calls that we normally would have, talking about what I’m going to do for the rest of the year,” Maneth said. “When he offered me, I was in shock. I didn’t commit on that phone call, I called back about an hour later to commit because I was all over the place. [It was] just a really special moment. It did not not [take me long to decide] at all.”

Having some idea of the future was like a weight lifted from his shoulders. All the months Maneth had spent pressing and worrying had come to an end. 

“Being committed is definitely a relief because I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself,” Maneth said. “That had been my downfall in the middle of June and July; I was putting way too much pressure on myself, so it was nice to get that off my shoulders.”

This relief of pressure was not the only perk of signing his letter of intent to play at MTSU; Maneth spoke highly of his future coach and the other advantages the university had to offer. 

“They’re a top 30 D1 program [and] are by far the best program that was recruiting me,” Maneth said. “[Coach Mcintyre] was definitely the most decorated, so it’s great to have some experience on that side of it. They have a multi-million dollar facility which is really great. I know I’ll be able to get out of Texarkana and try out some new stuff around the Nashville area which is going to be fun. I’m ready for it.” 

The opportunity Maneth has been presented is one he is very thankful for. However, he did not take all the credit for his accomplishments. Making sure he had the chance to recognize his personal swing coach and father as the mentors that led to him to where he is now.

“Geoff Jones [has] been a huge impact on my golf game. Also, my dad gave me all the opportunities to play at a high level,” Maneth said. “Both of them really helped me and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Maneth will be following in his fathers footsteps by playing collegiate golf. Not only did his father play a huge role in Maneth’s game, but was also the reason he started playing.

“My dad [influenced me to play the most],” Maneth said. “He played college golf for Ouachita Baptist. He would always take me out when I was little to go play at Hope Country Club. I had a blast.”

Along with the high hopes for his freshman year, Maneth also expressed the excitement he had for his final high school season. The boys golf team was ranked first in the UIL 5A division throughout the fall season, with Maneth leading the team giving them good chances in the UIL state golf tournament in May. 

“I have a lot of high hopes for our team this spring,” Maneth said. “We’ve proven ourselves a lot and we proved that we’re worthy of a high ranking in the fall. I believe that we’ll continue to keep showing that and I have faith that we’re going to win [state] this year.”