Golf caddying helped Curley educate Antonio Carter after a tragedy. Now a ‘life-changing’ scholarship awaits.

Despite being separated by more than 54 years, 18-year-old Antonio Carter and his 72-year-old grandfather Fred like to compete in a round of golf. The younger Carter said his grandfather hardly admits anything — even when asked who the best golfer is.

“He will tell you him and I would tell you,” he said with a laugh.

That’s not always true, Fred said. He pointed out that his average drive off the tee is about 50 yards shorter than his grandson’s average of more than 250 yards. If Fred has an advantage, it’s his chipping and putting.

“I know at my age mine doesn’t go that far,” he said. “I stay in my lane.”

Carter’s commitment to golf has yielded even greater benefits. The Baltimore resident and Archbishop Curley graduate was named the recipient of the Western Golf Association’s Chick Evans Scholarship for high-achieving caddies in February.

Carter, who caddies at Baltimore Country Club in Timonium, plans to major in marketing at the University of Maryland, where the scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for four years. Carter is the fifth caddy from Baltimore Country Club to receive the scholarship, joining sisters Samantha and Becca Lannon of Dulaney, Varada Maulkhan of Catonsville High School and Kendall Opheikens of Overlea High School.

Mike Maher, vice president of scholarships and caddy academies for the WGA, said Carter was selected as a finalist from a pool of 875 who applied for the scholarship.

“He’s used caddying as a gateway to doors that open,” Maher said. “He’s done it in an incredible way and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him.”

That future seemed uncertain early in Carter’s life. When he was 4, he lost both his parents when his mother was shot and killed by his father.

On November 30, 2008, Dawn Williams-Stewart was shot in the stomach and her husband, Antonio Girard Stewart, was found unconscious on a neighbor’s front porch with a gun in his hand and hanging by the neck from a belt. In July 2010, Stewart, who had worked as a security guard and was licensed to carry a concealed handgun, was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Fred Carter said his stepdaughter Williams-Stewart and her husband had been separated for several months and Williams-Stewart was seeking a divorce. But he said neither he nor his wife Joy Carter, whom he married in 2005, anticipated Stewart’s reaction.

“I don’t think anybody thought this was something that could have led to that,” he said.

Antonio – who was born Antonio Girard Stewart Jr. before his grandparents officially adopted him and little sister Rachael on February 1, 2012 and is known by his nickname “AJ” – said he barely remembers what happened. He and Rachael were taken away by older sister Litia Land and a godmother for a week each before their grandparents took them in, and he said he didn’t start learning about what happened to his parents until he was much older.

When asked how he didn’t give in to depression or anger, Carter said, “I’m never saying I stayed out of it. I think it’s pretty normal for a person or a kid to feel that way. Through therapy, growing up and talking to my family and finding outlets for sports or activities that I wanted to go to that would help me concentrate on something else that would help.”

Tasked with raising a pair of step-grandchildren in their 50s, Fred Carter, who has been playing golf since he was 40, introduced them to the game. Antonio started playing when he was 6 years old, and Rachael when she was 4 .

“I see it as a life sport,” he said. “I like the calming aspect of it, even though it is very difficult. I felt that you get to meet amazing people. I just thought the whole environment could lead to excellence because you’re constantly trying to get better.”

Despite an initial request to switch to baseball, Antonio Carter eventually gravitated toward golf.

“You don’t have to worry about anyone else,” he said. “It’s just what I do that matters.”

Carter said he started breaking 90 on an 18-hole course when he was 13 and now regularly shoots 80. When he was 14, he started caddying at Baltimore Country Club, where he built a relationship with caddies for longtime member Jack Palmer.

Palmer, director of the Western Golf Association, said Carter was shy and reserved at first. But he compared the teenager to a multi-layered onion.

“He was getting more and more comfortable every round,” Palmer said. “He kind of opened up and he was just a nice kid.”

Palmer recommended that Carter and his grandfather consider applying for the Chick Evans Scholarship. When Carter was invited to a Feb. 8 interview with about 100 scholarship fund and WGA officials at a country club outside Philadelphia, Palmer drove him and his grandfather to the interview, and a handful of other Baltimore Country Club members appeared to show support .

“His personality lit up the room during his interview,” said Maher, the WGA vice president. “He really piqued the interest of our committee members with not only what he had experienced, but more with his reactions to his situation. He’s had a tremendously successful high school career, and to be able to do that for someone is remarkable.”

Carter said he would have enrolled in a community college instead of Maryland if not for the scholarship. Palmer called the scholarship “life-changing.”

“He can go to school without debt,” he said. “Evans Scholars have a 92% graduation rate.”

Fred Carter said the family, which includes older brothers Jordan and Joshua, is proud of Antonio’s achievement.

“As I’ve told him, it’s a great opportunity, but he’s worked really hard,” he said. “It’s not something we take for granted.”

Antonio Carter said he hopes to use his marketing degree to pursue his passion for photography. He said he often thinks of his mother when he sees anything pink (her favorite color) and roses (her favorite flower).

“I think everything to this point, from where I was, is a blessing,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s luck because you have to work hard. You have to realize that there are some things that you deserve and some things that people can help you with.”

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