Eric Karpinksi would like to take his links talents about a tee shot away to the University of Massachusetts Lowell., VALLEY DISPATCH/MEGHAN JONES

BY JENNIFER AMY MYERS, Valley Dispatch Staff

DRACUT — When Eric Karpinski has a bad day on the golf course, he remembers something Tiger Woods once said: “People aren’t characterized by failure, but how they bounce back from it.”

Eric Karpinski doesn’t have too many bad days on the golf course. The lanky 17-year-old Dracut High School senior recently birdied his way to victory in the Merrimack Valley Conference Individual Golf Championship at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsboro, the first Middie to do so since Tom Enis did it in 1987.

Karpinski’s hard work earned him a trip to the State Individual Championship on Oct. 27 at Holden Hills.

“It was really tough today,” he said in an interview at his home after the state championship. “I didn’t do as well as I had hoped to.”

Karpinski shot a 91. Par was 71.

“I think the best score was a 76,” he added. “I really hate to lose and work hard on getting better. I had a goal to be number one on the team and make the state championship and be one of the best golfers in the conference, and I worked really hard to get to that level.”

His hard work helped raise the 23-member Middie golf team to its best season ever, finishing with a 7-9-1 record, an accomplishment he hopes will inspire more students to get involved with the golf team.

“My dad’s been playing golf for as long as I can remember and I grew up playing with him,” Karpinski recalled.

When he was in the eighth grade, Karpinski began working as a caddy at Vesper Country Club, often caddying for Hughes.

“He usually picked me and really taught me how to caddy,” Karpinski said. “I’ve gotten a lot of golf experience out of caddying because I can watch the other players and how they swing and I get to play for free when I’m not working.”

Karpinski now works in the bag room at Vesper, cleaning golf carts and clubs and catering to the needs of the members.

“He is a caddy-golfer, which is unusual,” Hughes said. “He has come up the old-fashion way and it certainly helps that he has such a great family that is always supporting him.”

He added that although his mom, Carrie, isn’t really into golf, she always stands by him in whatever he chooses to do.

“She left a message for me today to find out how things went. She sounded really excited and nervous,” he smiled. “She’s pretty encouraging.”

Now that the golf season, and his high-school career has come to an end, Karpinski is reflecting on the past few years and preparing for college.

He vividly remembers a match against Andover his sophomore year — Dracut High golf team’s first win in a decade.

“We really battled back and I hit a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to tie the match,” he said. “That was pretty big.”

Karpinski will spend the offseason practicing at Bill Pappas Golf School in Chelmsford, which offers a putting green. It also gives him the opportunity to analyze video and work on his technique in preparation of entering the much more competitive ranks of college golfers.

“I’ve been sending my golf scores to the golf coach at UMass Lowell and have been talking to him. I’d like to go there and study business management,” said Karpinski, who could drive a golf ball onto the UMass Lowell North Campus from his Fourth Avenue home.

“I want to be a golf pro and if that doesn’t work out, maybe start my own business that has something to do with golf,” he said.

Know an amazing kid? E-mail Jennifer Amy Myers at jmyers@thevalleydispatch.com.