Golfing Gwinnett: A dogleg in life

Most people dream to reach Tom Carter's position.

At 56 years old, the husband and father of two makes a comfortable living as a golf course general manager, has worked for ClubCorp for the past seven years and, best of all, gets paid to hang out at the Country Club of Gwinnett.

Not a bad gig.

But Carter is not most people, and he is jumping at a renewed calling to missionary work - something he did from 1986-1993. Carter, his wife, Cora, and their two daughters, Maria, 15, and Anastasia, 12, leave July 12 for Cebu City in the Philippines where Carter will pastor the Pentecostal Church of Our King. They are leaving behind that secure life they spent the past seven years building in Gwinnett County.

"I am going from a very steady, fairly well-paid position and we are actually raising our own support and a life of living by faith of finances," Carter said. "For my family, this is a big step of faith. We really feel right about it. As a family, we felt the Lord directing us back into full-time missions."

Call it coincidence or destiny, but all of Carter's life seems to have been a preparation for this life-changing move. He is practiced in mission work from his time in the late 80s. He is practiced in business from his time spent as a golf course general manager. And he is more than practiced in golf from his collegiate playing days at Northeast Louisiana University and as a course professional.

Now he is going to an English-speaking church focusing its ministries on local businessmen, many of whom play golf - far more of a luxury in the land-strapped island nation.

"There are 90 million people with only 100 golf courses," Carter said. "To play golf is about a month's salary for a normal, working person."

He's done his homework on the golf and the rest.

And best of all for a father and husband, the move back to missions and, specifically, the Philippines came from his daughters. A year ago, Carter and his family visited the Philippines on an overdue trip to see members of his wife's family.

"My daughters, at 12 and 15, had never been to the Philippines," Carter said. "They both just fell in love with the Philippines and had a real heart to minister to the poverty.

"They both said, 'Dad, we want to go into missions in the Philippines.'"

Carter knows it will be more missions than golf - a lot more - but it's what he says he needs to do.

"I do love golf and I do love serving the Lord in the mission field," Carter said. "The safest place to be is in His will."

Gwinnett fills

Georgia Amateur field

When the final rounds of qualifying for the 86th Georgia Amateur Championship wrapped up this week across the state golfers from Gwinnett filled the ranks of the 156-man field.

Of the 156 total golfers in this year's field, 23 come from Gwinnett county and none will have a long drive to the tournament that runs from July 12-15 at the Ansley Golf Club-Settingdown Creek in Roswell.

Before the qualifying even began, Gwinnett was guaranteed at least one golfer in the field with Duluth's Greg Kennedy holding a tournament exemption for being among the top 10 in last year's Georgia State Golf Association's points list. Other local qualifiers include Grayson's Brian Black and Lilburn's Larry Harris, who qualified at Cartersville Country Club. Lilburn's John Saari, Duluth's Billy Shida and Suwanee's Nelson Alvarez all qualified at Green Island Country Club in Columbus. Donny Phillips of Suwanee qualified at Stonebridge Country Club in Rome, and Buford's Terry Rush earned his spot at the tournament site in Roswell. Duluth's Seth Reeves and Dave Poteet along with Suwanee's Nathan Rau all qualified at The Frog Golf Club at the Georgian in Villa Rica. The largest Gwinnett entries from one site came from Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth with Norcross' Raymond Perez, Michael Fallaize, Matt Kubis, Justin Cho, Mike Cromer and Robert Adams all qualifying with Pete Malcolm and Bubba Gwyn of Duluth and Lilburn's Frank Remmes and Buford's Shaun Dalton. Lawrenceville's Patrick Loveley and Braselton's Brandon Childress each qualified at Jennings Mill Country Club in Bogart. Local alternates include Duluth's Blake Perrigan, Duluth's Cameron Hood, Snellville's Austin Bramblett, Suwanee's John Parks and Lilburn's Jacob Keen.

Eight move on from

ESPN Challenge

The top two teams in gross and net play advanced from the ESPN Challenge at Bear's Best to the Regional Qualifier at Eagle's Landing.

Last weeks tournament hosted more than 90 players, paired in two-somes with two lowest scores in team gross and team net play advancing. Advancing in the gross division were the pair of Michael Lott and Eddie Banister with a 63 and Nathan Rau and Bob Stiokas with a 64. In net play Tommy Saul (68) and Steve Faust (57) took first and Tim Cronic (69) and Alan Key (59) took second. The regional qualifier is Aug. 27.

Golfing Gwinnett is a weekly column that highlights golf in the area and welcomes contributions from courses and individuals. To be included in the column, fax information to 770-339-8081 or e-mail to ben.beitzel@gwinnettdailypost.com.