Stephen Bennett, Fallston, golf

Q&A --


Senior Fallston golfer Stephen Bennett sparks the defending District VII champions with a laid-back approach that keeps his teammates laughing when they aren't lining up a putt or preparing a tough shot. He won the Harford County individual championship with a 72, shot an 81 to help the Cougars capture the district title and carries a 5-handicap. Bennett joined the Fallston team for the second half of the season last fall after his family moved to the Fallston area from Ireland.

What does it mean to be a top golfer on the District VII champions?

Ever since I was 10 I wanted to play golf, and having my team win the district championship was a great accomplishment for me.

How is playing golf in the U.S. different from Ireland?

Well, a major factor is climate. It's a lot colder over there and there's more rain in Ireland. It's more humid here.

How far do you want to take the sport?

I want to take golf all the way to the pros. I want to play in college at a Division I or Division II school. I'm looking at a golf management program in college at Coastal Carolina or Arizona State.

Why golf and not another sport?

I used to play a lot of soccer in England, where I was born. My dad was a professional soccer player. Then I moved to Ireland and took up golf when I was 9.

What's the hardest part of playing the game?

It's putting in the time -- practicing three hours a day at least. And then probably the hardest part of golf is the mental game. Getting around, like if you have a bad hole, keeping your head in the game, and going to the next hole and birdieing it. Every now and again, it's hard to do that. I have some days where nothing can go wrong, nothing can get into my own world, just golf.

How did you become such an accomplished leader in golf?

My dad's always been a leader. My older brother was a scratch golfer, and my Auntie was an LPGA member. Golf is in my blood. It's what I want to do.

What's the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you in golf?

I'm not too sure. I'm always having fun on the golf course. Embarrassment doesn't really affect me. If someone makes fun of me, I start laughing at myself. It's a fun game, but I take it seriously. But I have a lot of fun.

How can you be so jovial in such a serious sport?

What most people see is me laughing and joking around all the time before I play. Between shots I can laugh and joke around. But a few minutes before I get to my shot, I focus in on what I want to do. Get my head in the game. When I'm walking between holes, I don't really honestly talk about golf. I talk to anyone who is there. Anything to keep my mind off golf.

What's your biggest thrill in golf?

Winning the county championship last fall with a 72. I called up all my family in England, which took a lot of calls. I called all my friends and relatives in England and Ireland. Everyone got a call.

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