Learning golf, literally, on his home course
In retrospect, it’s something of a miracle that he didn’t turn his childhood home into a museum of pulverized artifacts.
C’mon, you give a golf-crazed child a seven-iron for his birthday and he’s going to swing it. You give one to a Canadian kid that age — who’s stuck in the house for a chunk of the year because it’s either too cold or too snowy outside — and he’s going to swing it indoors. Meaning broken windows, smashed lamps, impaled walls and possibly even a few gouges in the floor are almost inevitable casualties of the ...
“I don’t think I ever broke anything,” Charlie Corner says, defying everything we know about young boys and enclosed spaces. “I have a clean record.”
If that’s surprising — anyone who’s ever had an energetic son will confirm, it absolutely is — what came later is even more remarkable. The club control he developed as a boy helped the Hamilton-born Cayuga native lead his University of Texas El Paso team to its first conference championship in over 30 years and recently earn him conference player of the week.
So how does a local kid go from practising his swing at home to playing on a scholarship in the American south?
It turns out the living room and kitchen weren’t the only places he would work on his form back in his youth. Day after day he’d go to the nearby Cayuga Golf Club and play for hours.
The folks there didn’t seem to mind letting a little kid wander the fairways and greens working on his game. So he would stay. And stay. And stay some more.
“I got in trouble a lot of times for staying too long at the golf course and not making it home in time for dinner,” Corner says.
Once he’d beelined it home and dusted off his dessert, he’d rush out to the backyard with that same seven iron to hit tennis balls or anything else he could find lying around. Or work on his putting and chipping on the pretty decent putting green dad had cut into the lawn.
By 13, he was competing in, and winning, tournaments on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, the Maple Leaf Tour, the International Junior Golf Tour and others. Then as he was heading into the midpoint of high school at McKinnon Park in Caledonia, a mentor, who’d played NCAA golf himself, mentioned the idea of a scholarship. This became the goal.
Corner started sending resumes to American coaches pitching himself as a guy who could help their teams.
“It was my goal to get somewhere down south where the weather was good all year,” he says.
Roughly two dozen letters were sent. About 15 of the recipients got back to him. His choice ultimately came down to five schools that wanted him to come. Some were south as he’d hoped. Others were more north but had something to offer. He remained undecided until he was at a tournament in Las Vegas and the head coach of UTEP approached him. This school hit all the notes, so he signed on.
Between the coaching there and the coaching he gets at Hamilton Golf and Country Club from Scott Cowx — the same guy who helps PGA Tour player Mackenzie Hughes with his swing — he’s shaved stroke after stroke off his game.
In 11 college tournaments this season, he has four top-10 finishes and has a scoring average of 72.6.
The goal is to go pro once school is done. He believes it’s an entirely reasonable target based on his progression. That’s still a year or two away, though.
All those more-recent successes aside, it’s hard not to be amazed that a kid who grew up waving a club around all the time didn’t blow something up. Not a single pane of glass? Not one ceiling fan? Nothing? At this point he clarifies. He personally may not have broken anything but he’s not going to claim he wasn’t present when some damage was inflicted. He and a neighbour were swinging their golf clubs one day when the friend put his driver head through a car window. Which didn’t go over well.
Connor laughs. “That kind of scared me out of doing that at my house.”
email@example.com 905-526-2440 | @radleyatthespec Spectator columnist Scott Radley hosts The Scott Radley Show weeknights 7-9 on 900CHML.
Hamilton-born Cayuga native Charlie Corner helped his University of Texas El Paso team win the Conference USA Trophy.