What’s a family to do when the parents have to work all summer and the kids are out of school? Kathy and Niles McCarty of Sierra Vista decided to send their kids to golf camp. After all, their sons Neal and Colin liked a lot of things. Why not try golf?
Neal played baseball and soccer and raced motocross. He is four years older than Colin. Whatever Neal did, he was successful. Colin played soccer and baseball and was very sociable. He wanted to be with the big kids, Neal and oldest brother Nathan.
Golf camp could take up some of the long summer days for Nathan, Neal and Colin McCarty. They were enrolled in Pueblo Del Sol Country Club’s summer program. Head Professional Pat Kelly’s sons, Chase and Brooks, were standout players at Buena High School and they ran the camp. Neal and Colin liked the game.
Neal, age 11, continued with his other pursuits, but added regular golf lessons. Colin joined three years later at age 10. John Hosterman taught the boys at the old Ball Four driving range in Sierra Vista. When that closed, they moved to Fort Huachuca and Turquoise Hills. They were improving.
Neal started focusing on golf in high school. On why he chose golf over team sports, Neal said “If you mess up, it is all on you. You can’t blame it on anyone else but you.”
Others noticed his junior year. Tom Callahan, Neal’s boyhood friend and golf teammate in high school and college, said that was when Neal really concentrated on golf. He really “worked his butt off.” Mom was glad he chose golf over BMX.
It worked out for Neal, too. He parlayed winning the 2006 Junior Golf Association of Arizona’s (JGAA) State Championship into college scholarship offers. Neal wanted a smaller school. He chose Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) over Sonoma State. Current SIUE Coach Derrick Brown says Neal “can really ball strike with just about anybody.”
Colin watched his brother and made a similar choice. “When my brother came back from his freshman year and said how much fun he was having, I maybe wanted that, too.” He concentrated on golf prior to his sophomore year at Buena High. He got similar results.
Colin won the Amateur portion of the Sierra Vista Open in September 2010. With Ryan Dillon and Benoip Bessoir competing on the professional side, Colin played against a high level of competition.
Jay Lane, Men’s Club President for Pueblo Del Sol Country Club, marvels at how Neal and Colin hit it long and straight. They are “out here from the time they get out of school until they turn the lights out.” Dave Sims, PDS’s Head Professional, says Neal and Colin “get the other kids fired up about playing.”
Colin is very competitive. When Neal is home from college, Colin is itching to play. He admits, “If we played today, Neal would beat me nine out of ten times.” However, Colin does not give all the credit to Neal. “When he was my age, I think I may be up on him by one or two strokes.”
Neal defends himself like older brothers always do. “He has beat me once. He holds that against me. Every other time I take him down.”
That competitive drive served Colin well. In October 2010, Colin won the AIA Division I State Championship. The first AIA title for Buena High School. He then chose to follow in his brother’s footsteps at SIUE accepting their scholarship over Idaho’s offer.
“I’m not going to school to try to better my brother,” Colin says. “I want to make my team and myself better so maybe I can make the Tour someday.”
It was not all good times on the golf course for Neal and Colin. Tom Callahan remembers Neal worrying over a stretch of golf between high school and college where his game abandoned him. “I struggled all freshman year,” Neal said. I even worked with a sports psychologist in California over the phone.”
He did not get past the problem until he got back to Sierra Vista and his boyhood teacher. After working with Hosterman again, he was “seeing the shots, visualizing and then really doing it.”
Hosterman says, “People say golf is a game of a lifetime because you can play from age 9 to 90, but it is for a much larger reason. You have to be honest, dedicated, determined and so much more.”
SIUE had switched to NCAA Division I from Division II in 2008 after Neal’s freshman year. By the end of his junior year in 2010, Neal held three SIUE golf records and was tied for another. He graduates this spring with a degree in Speech Communications. Colin starts playing for SIUE in the fall of 2011.
Neal plans to return to Arizona following graduation for two to three months to work on his game and play in some professional Gateway Tour events. If everything goes well, it will be Q-school in Florida in the fall. “It all depends on how I’m playing,” he said.
When reflecting back on the lessons they took, the boys had a message for their teacher, John Hosterman. “He has made me the golfer that I am. I owe everything to him,” Neal said. Colin said, “He’s a lot more like family to us now. He’s taken us everywhere.”
Who will hold the SIUE records after Colin graduates in 2015? Who knows, but what are your kids doing this summer?