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Ben Smith

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Carter Dornseif wins High School Invitational

Heritage star talks about his 72 at Fort Wayne Country Club

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Heritage graduate Carter Dornseif battled heat, rain and a half-hour lightning delay to win the High School Invitational on Saturday at Fort Wayne Country Club.

Class trip kindled passion for golf

– So this is how their summers go, all these kids fighting their open-ended wars on par.

First it’s steam heat that could smooth the wrinkles out of an octogenarian.

Then it’s thunder and rain and more rain and finally lightning.

Then the mosquitoes come out for their latest rendition of Thirty Seconds Over Mealtime, or I Got Your Deep Woods Off Right Here, Pal.

This was everyone’s Saturday at the High School Invitational at Fort Wayne Country Club, and when it was over, well past 7 p.m., the kid with the slimmest number was the kid who once seemed to have the fattest chance to be there. Carter Dornseif, who graduated from Heritage, fought the heat and the rain and a half-hour or so lightning delay to extract the low score – 1-over 72 – from FWCC’s skinny fairways and tabletop-slick greens. Jaycee Bunner of Blackhawk Christian won the girls side with a 78.

As for Dornseif, he not only fought to a draw a course he’d never played before, he did it as the accidental golfer, or at least something like it.

From the time he was 5 years old until one fateful day in the seventh grade, see, it was a baseball bat Dornseif was swinging, not a 1-iron. His father loved the game unreservedly and so Carter did, too, at least until that class field trip to Paige’s Crossing.

Dornseif was taking his cuts in the batting cage that day when he saw some kids heading for the driving range, and he decided to join them. “Three or four hours” later, as he recalls it, he was hopelessly hooked.

“The next year we did the same thing for our field trip and I did the same thing,” says Dornseif, whose 72 beat out the 75s of Callahan Elzey and Pat Allgeier from Bishop Dwenger. “I quit baseball my eighth-grade year. Picked up golf and went to Lifetime Sports Academy and that helped me out a lot. That’s what got me where I am now.”

Not that he wasn’t something of a natural at it.

“Yeah, there was a guy on the driving range and he was like, ‘Hey, you play golf? You have a good swing, you should pursue it,’ ” says Dornseif, the first Heritage golfer to play in the state finals. “And, I don’t know, since then I picked it up pretty fast, I guess.

“I think the reason I hit it so far now is I was a baseball player and the hip rotation on the baseball swing is a lot like the golf swing. So it wasn’t like I came to golf without any experience.”

That might be it. Or it might just be that he was supposed to be this sort of boy of summer all along, instead of the more traditional variety.

“I don’t know, you kind of feel your way through it, you know,” he said of playing FWCC for the first time. “The greens were faster than anything I’d ever played before. They’re so fast, if you’re on the green you’re pretty much hoping for a two-putt. Three-putts are very likely out there.

“But I played well. It was a good experience. I had a lot of fun, and there were a lot of cool people here.”

Him among them.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.