Golf

This golfer built a massive following with just 1 shot: Driver off the deck

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If you’ve ever attempted to hit a driver off the deck — that is, hit a driver from a lie on the fairway or elsewhere as opposed to off a tee — it probably didn’t occur to you that showcasing your efforts on social media could lead to a legitimate career as an influencer.
But that’s exactly what happened to 24-year-old Carter Smith, who played high school golf but says he was never very good. That didn’t stop him from trying to play in college. He sent hundreds of letters to golf programs, but when he didn’t get any offers from the schools he contacted, he took a gap year instead. After playing well in some junior events he finally received an offer from Palm Beach Atlantic University in South Florida. Smith spent a year there before dropping out to pursue pro golf full time.
Smith supported him dream by working as a caddie and doing bathroom and kitchen renovations on the side. But then something happened that significantly changed Smith’s path. While playing the Vermont State Open two years ago, Smith started hitting driver off the deck — something he had been accustomed to doing since his childhood to compensate for his small frame.
“I could not hit the fairway to save the life of me,” Smith told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on this week’s episode of Subpar. “The whole time in the first round I was like, screw it, I’m hitting driver off the deck. I shot 67, and everyone was like, what are you doing? That was crazy, I can’t believe you did that. And I was like, yo, I am never using a tee again. That’s it.
“I’ve been sober ever since.”
Smith started posting Instagram videos hitting driver off the deck last December. In less than two months, he had 10,000 followers. Seven months later, he now has 155,000, enough to put his caddying and bathroom tile-laying days behind him and focus on his game — and social media posts — full-time.
In addition to his driver videos, Smith has also cultivated an entertaining online persona. As the self-proclaimed “DOD King,” Smith grew a mullet and initiated a “war on weasels” to combat the faceless criticism he receives on social media.
“They’re insecure because they have to use tees,” Smith said of his detractors.
“At the end of the day, my favorite part about golf and sport is the competition and the mental side of things,” he continued. “I’ve never been the most talented, I’ve never had all the skills, never hit it the farthest, definitely was not the smartest, but I’ve always been able to develop an art of visualization and kind of the mental strength to play in competitive sports when I didn’t have my best.”
For more from Smith, including his keys to hitting driver off the deck, check out the full interview below.

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.
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