Chris Stens showed he could do what most golfers can’t.
He stayed out of his own head.
The Carolina Forest senior ignored the distractions of moving across state lines and into a new school. In the process, he gained some attention from not only his one-year coach, but also those in the college ranks.
“It just amazes me to shoot those kinds of numbers,” Panthers coach Vil Caroso said. “He plays a lot. He’s continuously on the range hitting balls. But to shoot some of those scores he has at some of those courses, I was just amazed.
“He wasn’t even on the map when he got to Carolina Forest. After he won a couple tournaments, he started getting calls.”
In many ways, the Stens family’s move to their property at Legends Golf and Resort was a gamble. They were hoping the additional exposure would help him land a spot on a college team.
He made sure the proverbial gamble counted.
The more he played, the better he got. Stens owned a nine-hole average of 37.8 and a 74.4 clip on 18-hole rounds. He won the Panthers Invitational by two strokes and the Seahawk Tournament by six.
The play landed him a scholarship offer from NCAA Division-II Pfeiffer in North Carolina.
“My goal was to play the best I could for [Caroso] and helping the team be as good as it could be,” Stens said. “He did everything he could as a coach. It wasn’t just me.
Stens built upon the game he had already developed at his original home course in Fayetteville, N.C. With a driver he said averages a respectable 260 yards, he went to work studying the courses he would play to ensure his short game took him to the next level.
“He doesn’t hit it 300 yards, but he can put it on the green from anywhere, which is something you don’t see a lot,” Caroso said. “He only had one hole all year that he had more than a double.”
Stens displayed that consistency overall, too. He finished in the top 10 in six of the seven tournaments he played. Caroso called him the best transfer Carolina Forest has had in his decade-long tenure.
The coach then went a step further.
“I only had him one year,” Caroso said. “But if I had him three, he’s right up there with all the good golfers I’ve had.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.