Karim Muhammad loves the game of golf.
And the 18-year-old Macon resident is serious about the game he loves. Muhammad, who started playing the game when he was only 9, usually plays or practices four to six hours per day every day except Sunday. But Muhammad had gone his entire junior career without a signature win, something that was a bit frustrating for the self-proclaimed perfectionist.
That all changed June 23 when Muhammad took on 61 of the best golfers in the Southeast and took every one of them down, winning the Junior Peach Blossom Tournament at Idle Hour Club for his first Southeastern Juniors Golf Tour win. Muhammad blitzed the course in the first round, shooting a tournament-low 67 and then came back with a second day 76 to win by two strokes.
I had won some smaller tournaments, but this was definitely a big step for me, said Muhammad, who finished fifth in the tournament a year ago. I feel like this was a big step for me in my golf career, and it was almost like a coming out party for me. I think my golf game has improved greatly over the last year, and I am playing with a lot more confidence now. I just try and go out and play my game and have fun while I am doing it.
Muhammad, whose first taste of golf came at a golf clinic sponsored by Mount Moriah Baptist church at Bowden Golf Course, is quick to credit a change he made about a year ago.
I started working with Ray Cutright and Brandon Stooksbury at Idle Hour once a week, and I think they have taken me to a whole different level, Muhammad said. I was basically playing the game by feel, and the first thing Mr. Cutright did was to break down my swing quite a bit. After that, it was up to me to put in the practice time and get the feel of what he was wanting me to do. Once I started to do what he wanted me to do, I became a much better golfer.
And to go with that Brandon Stooksbury has worked wonders with my short game. I rely on my short game because Im not that long off the tees yet.
The ever-smiling Muhammad knows that one of the main things he has to do to get better is to add weight to his 135-pound frame.
Mr. Cutright is on me all the time about eating more, and I am working on gaining weight, he said. I think if I could get stronger and maybe get up to around 155, I would be able to be a little longer. Right now I am hitting it maybe 260 yards, and thats why I have to have a great short game. But I am excited about how much I have improved over the last year.
Muhammad, who will attend a smaller college next year in hopes of transferring to Morehouse after a year, has a busy schedule the rest of the summer. He will play in the Honors Championship at Healy Point Country Club on July 19-20 and a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur after that.
I know that I am a different golfer this year, and I am comfortable in my skin and overall just a more mature golfer, he said. I love the game, and I just want to keep improving.