Posted on September 12, 2023 by Amanda Cerreto

Photo credit: Morgan Taylor Graf

Photo credit: Morgan Taylor Graf

Standout golfer Camryn Carreon ’23 has been making headlines for UTSA over the last two years – from winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier to making two straight NCAA Championship appearances and passing Stage I of Q school – but she is far from finished.

Camryn Carreon posing with a golf club
Photo credit: Morgan Taylor Graf

The public health graduate plans to use her COVID year to continue playing for UTSA, and she hopes to continue to set records and progress further in the game. The season opens on Sept. 11-12 with the Sam Golden Invitational in Denton, Texas.

Carreon comes from a family of athletes – her brother played baseball at Schreiner University – and she grew up playing softball, volleyball and golf. “Golf wasn’t even my favorite, at first, because it’s so hard,” she said. “But I got into it because of my dad and I got pretty good.”

“Pretty good” is an understatement for Carreon’s collegiate play. She broke onto the scene as a first-year student, despite the season being cut by COVID, leading the team to an invitational team title and winning the Plum Creek Women’s Amateur after carding a 1-under 70-71-141. The next few years were filled with wins and records, while also maintaining an outstanding GPA in her public health major. By her senior year, Carreon captured the NCAA San Antonio Regional individual title after firing a 10-under-par 206 (71-67-68), winning the crown by six shots to earn her second straight trip to the NCAA Championships. She owns seven top-10 finishes including two victories, and earned first-team All-Conference USA honors for two years in a row.

Born and raised in San Antonio, choosing where to go to college was an important decision for Carreon. “Something really important to me when I was choosing a college to play golf that was that I stayed in Texas,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much UTSA had grown over the years, and I just fell in love with it.”

Camryn Carreon sitting in a golf cart
Photo credit: Morgan Taylor Graf

Life as a student-athlete is wildly busy, but Carreon felt well-prepared thanks to her time at Incarnate Word High School. “I’m really good at managing my time, which is crucial,” she said. “Even with that, it is a lot to manage.”

Two days a week, Carreon and the team have workouts from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and then practice from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Classes will either be between workouts and practice or after. Carreon will often show up early and stay late to get in as much practice as she can. On days the team plays rounds, tee-off is at 8 a.m., play continues through the afternoon, and then she’ll attend class. That schedule requires rigorous discipline and focus. “When you have the free hour, you have to pick and choose your battles. Should I complete a quiz in this hour, or take a nap, or spend time with friends?” she said. “You might have to say no a few times here and there.”

Carreon started her academic career at UTSA as a biology major with plans to pursue medicine. However, with the schedule of a student-athlete, it became apparent that she would not be able to attend all the labs while still focusing on golf. She made the decision to switch to public health so she could still gather prerequisites for medicine.

As she progressed through the program, she decided that medicine was not her path. “If golf doesn’t work out, I’d love to do pharmaceutical sales,” she said.  “I love the idea of sales.”

Camryn Carreon playing golf
Photo credit: Morgan Taylor Graf

Carreon remains humble about her golf success, sticking to backup plans and trying to live in the moment with her golf success. “I’ve gotten a lot of top 10s and 20s, but I never thought I could be a winner,” she said. “I’m not being negative, but there is so much talent out there, and I’m out here having a blast and it feels surreal that I could belong in a winner’s circle.”

This past spring was Carreon’s first win in an NCAA Regional, and as a bonus, it was held at the team’s home course of TPC San Antonio Oaks. “I felt like there were 100 people following just my group every day, and it felt so awesome,” she said. “Those cameras, I didn't know how I was going to react to it, if I was going to be nervous, but I ate it up. I had such a good time.”

As she progressed through Nationals, she began to make plans for Q-School to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association. “Regionals was a moment of realization for me that I belong in golf,” Carreon said. “I can start believing that I’m a good player, and that I can go to the next level.”

Carreon gives much of the credit for her success to her swing coach, Bryan Gathright, UTSA head coach, Summer Batiste, former UTSA assistant coach, Mary Janiga, and of course, the person who introduced her to golf – her father. “Looking back at this season just makes me feel so grateful for my support system,” she said. I really couldn't do it without each and every one of them."

Carreon passed Stage I last week, and will progress to stage II in October. If she makes the cut, she’ll make the decision to go pro or stay collegiate. But true to form, she’s not living in the future and is focusing on the day-to-day.

“I just have so much fun playing,” Carreon said. “I want to play good golf, and I am lucky to have had some great weeks. It all means so much to me.”

— Amanda Cerreto