10-year-old South Florida golfer on autism spectrum starts his own golf apparel business

(WSVN) - A young South Florida golfer is taking a swing at starting a business, and he is charting his own path, both on and off the golf course. Here’s Karen Hensel with tonight’s 7 Spotlight.

Ten-year-old Carter Bonas certainly looks the part on the links. It’s fitting, since his hat, polo shirt, pants and belt are all from his very own line of golf apparel.

Carter Bonas, Spectrum Golf: “I told my mom ways I could run my business, and eventually she said yes.”

Last month, Carter got to show off his gear at the PGA Show in Orlando.

The company is called Spectrum Golf, and we will let the budding business owner explain how it was born.

Carter Bonas: “Well, I’m high on the spectrum, and I was writing the ‘S.G.,’ and I and I wrote the ‘G’ backwards. We were going to change it, but my dad said it looked pretty good, so it sticked.”

Dr. Thelma Tennie, Carter’s mom: “He was diagnosed with autism when he was 10 months old.”

Dr. Thelma Tennie, a marriage and family therapist herself, is Carter’s mom.

Dr. Thelma Tennie: “He was textbook autism, right? No speech, no eye contact, very repetitive motions, sensory issues.”

Thelma says Carter acted out and was bullied at school for being different.

A low point became a turning point in fourth grade.

Dr. Thelma Tennie: “He told his teacher, ‘If one more thing goes wrong, or one more thing happens to me, I’m going to kill myself.'”

She says therapy and medication helped get her son back on track.

There was also his love of sports, as long as they were non-contact, so he took a swing at golf.

Carter Bonas: “Golf was the best for me. I didn’t get screamed at. I didn’t get touched. I felt like I could take my time and try my best.”

Carter only started the sport about two years ago.

Corey Henry at the Country Club of Coral Springs is his coach.

Corey Henry, golf coach: “It just allows him to develop his self-confidence and, really, who he is as a person, on and off the golf course.”

Off the course, it’s back to business. Last year, Spectrum Golf sold nearly $7,000 in merchandise. Inside the pants are inspirational messages like “be determined.”

The golfing world is starting to take notice. Carter was interviewed on the Golf Channel, and just Thursday, he met PGA legend Ernie Els, who has a son with autism.

So what does the future hold for the founder of Spectrum Golf, who, by the way, turns 11 years old next month?

Carter Bonas: “Get bigger and bigger.”

Corey Henry: “I hope to see Carter on the PGA Tour.”

Dr. Thelma Tennie: “The sky is the limit.”

Carter’s mom started a nonprofit that offers free mental health services to parents with children and teens who are struggling. For more information on that and Spectrum Golf, click on the links at the bottom of this 7 Spotlight.

And if there is someone or something you think South Florida should know about, email us at 7Spotlight@wsvn.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Spectrum Golf

Healing Arts Institute of South Florida: Mental Health Therapy