Ian Johnston used his ability on the golf course to help others battling addiction.
With each birdie he carded in a competitive round this year, the Cedar Rapids Prairie junior gathered donations to benefit Area Substance Abuse Council through the American Junior Golf Association Leadership Links program.
The effort was a success, bringing in more than $13,290. Johnston ranked among the top fundraisers in the country and earned a chance to golf at least six holes with PGA star Rickie Fowler near Jupiter, Fla., on Nov. 16.
Fowler was seventh in the 2017 FedExCup rankings.
“I feel nervous, but at the same time I’m really excited,” said Johnston, who plans to travel the night before and stay a few days. “It’s a great opportunity I have. I’m real thankful for everyone who donated. It really helped the cause.”
Johnston was motivated by the loss of his 23-year-old brother, Seth Carnicle, who died last October after a battle with opioid addiction.
His original goal was $5,000 and he nearly tripled it. He received about that much in the final week or two. The support was overwhelming, adding to the thousands of dollars the Johnston family has already donated to ASAC.
“It was mind-blowing,” Johnston said. “I didn’t think it would get this high. Everyone really pitched in.”
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Johnston, who qualified for state for the first time and carded a birdie on the final hole to clinch Prairie’s first team berth, regards Fowler as one of his favorite players. He said it “would be fun” to play with him on the PGA Tour in the future.
He met Fowler during his appearances at the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic hosted by Elmcrest Country Club. When he posed for a picture and received an autograph during the annual charity event, Johnston didn’t imagine he would actually get to play with Fowler.
“I really like him,” Johnston said. “He’s a really cool guy.”
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