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Like grandfather, like grandson

Carver Larson, 11, of Alexandria, is one of about 300 golfers of all ages playing in the 97th annual Resorters Golf Tournament. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)1 / 3
Carver Larson's grandpa, Gary Thompson of Alexandria, took a day off of running Geneva Golf Club on Tuesday to caddy for his grandson at Resorters. (Contributed)2 / 3
Carver Larson, 11, and his grandfather and caddy Gary Thompson, had matching outfits for the Resorters competition Tuesday afternoon. (Contributed)3 / 3

As Carver Larson of Alexandria carried the heat of the age 10-12 Division Resorters Tournament Tuesday afternoon, his grandpa Gary Thompson was glad to carry his bag.

The love of the game is less a shared passion and more a way of life for the golfer-caddy duo, though, as Thompson is the founder of Geneva Golf Club, the course that Larson has lived along his whole life.

"Today was cool because he doesn't really get to see me golf that much because he's always working on the golf course," said the 11-year-old Larson.

He is just one of about 300 golfers from around the state who have gathered at the Alexandria Golf Club this week for the annual Resorters Tournament. The 97th annual tournament is one of the largest and most renowned golf competitions in Minnesota, flooding the lakes area with visiting athletes and spectators alike.

A golf family

Because of his golf-loving genealogy, Larson's mother, Rychel, said on Tuesday that it was never really a question whether her son would catch the "golf bug," it was simply a question of when.

"He's been playing since about age two-and-a-half with the plastic clubs in the backyard, kind of just putting the ball back and forth," she said. Rychel is also a lover of the game, along with Larson's father and sister. "It's just a part of who we are. They grew up with it."

After discovering his love of golf, Larson wasted no time taking his talents beyond his backyard, competing in several Minnesota Jr. PR events and entering his first Resorters competition at the age of eight-and-a-half. Resorters is one of his favorite competitions to take part in, as he gets to spend the week with friends he hasn't seen all year — often inviting them out to his home along Geneva Golf Club to continue the game long after the afternoon of competition is through.

"I've made a lot of friends in the past couple years and that's fun, but then again it's stressful because I want to beat them," Larson said with a laugh.

The preteen also plays football and basketball, and is juggling two baseball leagues this summer on top of his golf schedule. His mother explained that this high level of competition has helped him grow in many ways both in and out of athletics, but can occasionally get the best of him.

"We tell him not to put pressure on himself, but he puts more pressure on himself than anyone else does," Rychel said.

As it turned out, Tuesday afternoon ended up being a trying day of competition for Larson.

"He had a rough day today — a really rough day. He didn't play the round he knew he could play so he's a little frustrated, but as a parent you try to teach them to find the balance in the ups and the downs, because it's easy for emotions to overcome 11-year-olds," said his mother.

"But he knows that the sport has its highs and lows. We always tell him that at the end of the day it doesn't matter how good of an athlete or a golfer he is, we just want him to be a good person. The score is just a number."

In the end, however, Larson pulled through, making it to the championship flight in his division — with no shortage of support from his family.

"Today was a very, very special day for Carver on the golf course because his grandpa was his caddy for the first time ever," Rychel said. "So although he's not happy with his score, I really do hope that great memories were made with his grandpa being here and his grandma watching from the sidelines."

It doesn't appear this soon-to-be sixth grader plans on leaving the competitive golf scene anytime soon.

"It depends on if I make it to pro with any other sports," Larson said with confidence. "But I'm definitely planning on playing golf my whole life."