NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The ability to play top-level golf would be enough for most college students. But it barely touches the surface of what drives Vanderbilt standout Abbey Carlson.
Carlson, who was scheduled to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this month before the event was canceled to due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is arguably America’s most interesting women’s golfer.
Carlson possesses a truly remarkable resume. On the links, she’s one of Vanderbilt’s leading performers, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference honoree and Mason Rudolph Championship individual medalist who has helped guide the Commodores to back-to-back NCAA appearances and represented the United States in Palmer Cup international competition.
Away from the course, she’s a licensed pilot, airplane and rocket builder, aerospace enthusiast and engineering major.
When Vanderbilt women’s golf coach Greg Allen started the recruiting process, he quickly discovered Carlson was more than an elite golfer. She was knee-deep in aviation.
“Abbey had a pilot’s license as a high school junior and was flying a plane that she and other students at her school had built,” Allen said. “It quickly became obvious that Abbey wasn’t your typical junior golfer.”
The combination of Vanderbilt’s nationally-regarded golf program and highly-respected engineering school enticed Carlson to West End. Since arriving on campus, Carlson’s blossomed in the classroom and on the course while widening her interest in space.
Last year, Carlson joined other undergraduates with the Vanderbilt Aerospace Design Lab to create, build and launch their own rocket in conjunction with NASA. During the summer, she added to her aerospace experience with an internship at Boeing.
This spring, Carlson will complete a degree in mechanical engineering and hopes to cap her athletic career by leading the Commodores to another appearance at the NCAA Championships.
When Carlson is done with collegiate golf, she will join Boeing’s north Alabama facility as an advanced design engineer.
But for now, she’s focused on birdies on the course and books in the classroom.
Carlson and fellow Vanderbilt golfer Auston Kim were scheduled to compete in the prestigious Augusta National Women’s Amateur, scheduled in early April in Augusta, Georgia. Both could be eligible to play in the 2021 edition.