College Spotlight – Craig Off to Hot Start for UGA on the Links
For those who have known Caroline Craig, or at least of her work ethic, it comes as zero surprise as to how much success she’s had early on at UGA. Heavily recruited for years, she committed to UGA very early, after her sophomore year of high school.
The former White County state champion (Class of 2019), Craig has wasted no time at all in turning herself into one of the top golfers for the Bulldogs, AND one of the better golfers in the SEC and NCAA. If that’s surprising to you, it’s just the expectation for Craig.
“It’s been an absolute blessing to be able to step into a whole new experience with new standards, demands, long days, a whole new schedule basically and be able to continue to grow and succeed individually and as a team,” says Craig. “It’s also a huge confidence booster as I have set rather large goals going into college and be able to start to accomplish them is really exciting. I just plan to continue to grow learn and challenge myself. I want to be the best I can for God, my family, my team and myself.”
The most recent success came in the Liz Murphey Fall Collegiate Classic at UGA on November 6-8, where Craig finished a team-best 7th out of 216 golfers, leading the Lady Bulldogs to a 3rd place finish. She was par or better in two of the three rounds, and averaged a 72 for the tournament. That included a 3-under 69 for one round and 9 birdies.
Last season, Craig played in 6 events, averaging a 74.44 per round. If her 2020-21 average holds, that would be a significant improvement on an already solid game.
“The biggest adjustment has been my mental mindset and trusting the work that I’ve put in and the gift that God gave me,” adds Craig. “I also believe solidifying my sequence in my swing which has taken hours and hours of repetition and will continue to has been a huge post it I’ve adjustment. I don’t really have to try to overthink anymore, I try to focus on a few specific things like tempo and target on the course and that’s it. I can visualize my shots even more now and just get up and swing. It’s been a roller coaster at times but I feel like my mental game of playing hole by hole is even stronger year two. I know that if I don’t make a birdie on this hole, I have the same chance on the next hole to make it the best.”
In 2019-20, Craig also had 51 birdies and one eagle to her credit, and placed in the top 10 twice. Her second tournament ever at UGA saw her finish 4th overall among 218 golfers at The Molly in Portland, Oregon. She also had placed 10th at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate back in March 2020 in Hilton Head, South Carolina. That particular tournament was at the onset of the pandemic, which still today threatens to wreak havoc in all sports. That and countless other distractions can derail any collegiate athlete, which is something Craig combats daily.
“You can get very distracted on the collegiate level and have a lot going on all at once, but I’ve realized that it is such an honor to compete at such a high level and on a large platform, so I try to distract my mind with the enjoyment of the game versus everything else,” says Craig. “We work hours on end and prepare for situations, so I just have to go out and trust and believe in the process.”
So far, so good for Caroline Craig at UGA. And it’s still only just the beginning. Still, it’s never too early for her to store away a favorite moment of her collegiate career, to be replaced later by something bigger and better.
“Wow that is a very hard question as there’s been so many memorable moments,” says Craig. “One favorite was the Oregon tournament where the team took third and I took fourth individually. It was my college debut and to be able to walk down the last hole in the final group with two (now) professional golfers and my coach walking with me and my team right there, it was a really special moment at a stunning golf course.
Craig was a State Champion in her sophomore year at White County, and placed 6th in her junior season as well. She helped the Lady Warriors finish in the top-5 in 3 straight seasons, and had a scoring average around 72, claiming 2 BLITZ Golfer of the Year awards.
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Caroline Craig
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Caroline Craig