Golf is one of the few major sports that are not city-based, meaning there is no "home team" when a pro golf tour rolls into town. While there is no home team for people to cheer for when a Tour gets to their city, some players from the area feel like they are playing a "home game" for the week. Rarely do players get to see their whole families come out to watch them play just because schedules can be so demanding in golf. However, this week for Carley Cox is as close to a home game as she can get.
Cox was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has spent most of her life there. She grew up in the state, went to college at East Carolina University (ECU), and now she continues to live full-time in the state. ECU is just under an hour away from Taberna Country Club this week, so Cox has seen many familiar faces so far at the Champions Fore Change Invitational.
"I have already seen some ECU people out here and wishing me luck," said Cox. "My college coach actually came out and helped me with my practice rounds. So, I am hoping there will be some more Pirate fans out here this weekend."
Not only will the local ECU fans be cheering on Cox this week, but the person who got her into the game will also be here to support her.
"My parents, my fiancé, and my grandfather, who actually got me into golf, are all coming out this week," said Cox. "My grandfather has always had a love for golf, and he asked me to come to play golf with him one summer before my freshman year of high school. It started off very casual, but then I started to really like it, and I gave it a shot; it's kind of history from that point on."
The pressure of playing in front of people you care about at the highest level is something few people get to experience. The pressure to succeed and prove to everyone what you are doing is the right choice is not easy. But, this week, for the North Carolina native, it is not pressure she is feeling. It’s thankfulness.
"There is always going to be a little bit of added pressure, but I would say I am more thankful than anything," explained Cox. "I am just thankful for them to have the opportunity to have them here and to come out and watch. I know no matter what happens this week, my family is here for me, they love me, and they are going to support me. Then for my grandfather to be able to come out here and watch me play, it is more special to me than adding any pressure."
The 26-year-old is entering her third year on the Epson Tour, but the beginning of the 2023 season has been a struggle. Cox made just her third cut of the year last week at the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship. Still, she hopes this week that her familiarity with golf in North Carolina will kickstart her season going forward.
"It is pretty straightforward, pretty right in front of you, pine tree-lined North Carolina golf course," said Cox. "I feel really comfortable here. It is the kind of course that I am used to playing, and I just like it a lot here."
Cox tees off on Friday, June 2 at 7:52 am off No. 10 at Taberna Country Club.