Like it does for most people, golf began as a hobby for Ben Snyder.
He learned the game on the course of Rotonda with his grandfather, Jim Burgess, any time he would come visit from Pennsylvania.
However, with few opportunities to practice and play in his home state, Snyder didn’t put much time into his game until he moved to Florida in his sophomore year of high school.
Even still, it took a lot of work just for Snyder to make the Venice High golf team.
“He was one of the projects a couple years ago that I kept,” Venice boys golf coach Brent Pinkerton said. “I kept a couple of extra players on the JV team and he was one of the ones who we wouldn’t have kept normally.
“And he was the star of that group. He stayed with it, he worked hard. He worked all summer long.”
Undeterred from a season on junior varsity, the now-senior put in the work to take his game to the next level. Though he played in the Indians’ top-five in some matches last year, he wasn’t consistent enough to do so in the district tournament.
But this year has been a breakthrough for Snyder.
He worked at Jacaranda West Country Club this summer and dedicated time to his swing nearly every day. It didn’t take long to pay off.
In the opening tournament of the season, Snyder led Venice with a 73 in the John Ryan Invitational and has played as the team’s No. 2 golfer for much of the year behind sophomore Tristen Evans.
As the team’s only senior, he’s taken some of the younger players under his wing — helping them with their swings and making them feel like a part of the team.
“What I asked him to do is take some of the younger kids and mentor them,” Pinkerton said. “Everyone needs to be mentored. So I’ve asked him to come alongside them and he does. He watches what they’re doing and he helps them. Sometimes I ask him to and sometimes he does it on his own.”
While Snyder has had his best year yet on the golf course, he might have had a better year in academics. He was named a National Merit Scholar for his work in the classroom and is looking at attending such colleges as the University of Florida, Duke, or Princeton.
But he’s not ready to give up on golf just yet, as he said he plans to try to walk on to the golf team of whatever university he ultimately chooses to attend.
For now, the senior still has some high school golf left to play as the District 3A-12 tournament will be held on Monday morning at Misty Creek Country Club. If the Indians are to advance, they must place within the top three teams of their 10-team district — something that Snyder said he thinks is within reach.
“I think we can do it,” he said. “Everyone here has the ability to shoot in the 70s to make it past districts. Everyone has done it this season, it’s just a matter of all doing it on the same day so we can advance.”
Girls golf to host district tournamentThe Venice High girls golf team will also be playing in the District 3A-12 tournament. The Lady Indians will host the tournament at Pelican Pointe Golf and Country Club on Monday morning as they look to make it on to regionals as a top-three team out of their 10-team district.
Check out Wednesday’s issue of the Gondolier to see how both teams did in districts.