Port Washington's Karty traded ice for grass, and is excelling on the links

Port Washington's Karty traded ice for grass, and is excelling on the links
Port Washington junior Bryce Karty is one of the top golfers in Nassau Co., and is aiming for a county title next week. Photo courtesy of Karty family.

The two sports seem to be extremely different, like night and day, cold and hot, the New York Knicks and boring playoff games.

Growing up in Port Washington, Bryce Karty had two passions: golf and hockey.

One is a game filled with passion and intensity, with hitting, shooting, and passing, while opponents try to hook, hold, and trip to slow you down.

The other is a leisurely game where the only opponent is the course, and manners and decorum are extremely important.

When he turned 13, Karty felt like it was time to make a choice: Which one to really dedicate himself to and get serious about.

He chose the outdoor sport.

“I just thought about it and felt like I could go further in golf, so I stopped playing hockey and really started practicing golf a lot more,” Karty said. “I still love hockey but golf is where I wanted to be.”

While Karty is thrilled by the New York Rangers playoff run and once dreamed of being Adam Fox or Artemiy Panarin, his choice of sport seems to have paid off.

One of the top golfers in Nassau County, the junior at Schreiber High, is aiming for the boy's individual title at next week's county championships on May 21 after coming so close to winning last year.

Karty placed second to Wheatley's Joseph Dolezal at counties last year while helping Port Washington win both the county and Long Island championships as its No.2 golfer.

Karty then went to state and shot an 81 on the famously difficult Black Course at Bethpage State Park in the L.I. championship, the best mark of any golfer there.

Finally, Karty qualified for state and finished 37th in the state, shooting a 161. If he qualifies for states this season, he could be the first Port Washington player to make states three straight years.

“His knowledge of the game, his course management, is really great,” said Port Washington coach Mike Killoran. “He's always working on his swing, analyzing what has gone wrong. He's a real student of the sport.”

Karty's love of golf started at age five when his grandpa George took him to Harbor Links in Port Washington. Almost immediately, Karty was able to watch other golfers' swings and replicate them.

“My grandpa tells me that he'd show me how to swing, point to someone else swinging on the range, and I would then do it well,” Karty recalled. “I always had pretty good hand-eye coordination.”

Despite neither of his parents playing golf, Karty continued to learn and play. Hockey was his main sport; he competed on the Long Island Gulls travel team and loved it.

But golf was the stronger pull, partly because of the unpredictability and challenge of the game.

“You can always shoot lower and better,” Karty said. “One day you can be hitting it perfectly, then the next day you think you're doing everything the same way, and you're playing badly. I love the challenge of it.”

The mental part of the sport is even more difficult.

“Everything on the golf course is internal; you can't scream or yell or throw stuff,” Karty said. “The whole sport is between your ears, so you have to figure out how to control your emotions. You let it out in your head.”

Karty said his rule on being upset or happy about a shot is “to take five seconds and then let it go.”

“You just have to pick up your mental game and get right back at it,” Karty said. “There's so much downtime in golf when you're walking or preparing. It's so important to be mentally ready when you're going to hit a shot.”

Karty's strengths on the course aren't just his driving and putting; he's also constantly helping his teammates, Killoran said.

“Bryce always has a drill ready to go to help the other kids, something that will improve them a little bit,” Killoran said. “He's like having another coach.”

Karty's goals, besides getting back to states this year, include playing Division I college golf, and he said he's already heard from some coaches.

A lot depends on how he finishes this season and how he performs in summer tournaments.

“I just want to keep getting better and hopefully do better at states this year,” he said. “All the time I spent chipping and putting and practicing, hopefully, will pay off, and hopefully, we can win the team championship again, too.”

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