Photo by Jena Smith
After walking away from the 18th hole at the Vinzant Consotti Memorial Tournament in Overland Park last summer, senior Ben Hadden found himself with a new passion for golf. He won the tournament by 18 strokes, finishing 12 under par in one of five wins that summer and with a new tournament low.
“That was the most fun I have ever had playing golf because I was playing so well,” Ben said. “I became addicted to that feeling to where I want to dominate tournaments even more than I did then.”
For Ben, golf is as much of an activity outside of school as it is on the school team. In addition to other student golfers freshman Bella Hadden and sophomore Meg Green, Ben golfs in out-of-school leagues as well as with the school.
Ben has been golfing for 17 years, and became more serious about the sport in the past few years.
“My dad started me pretty much as soon as I could walk, so ever since then I have been playing,” Ben said. “I really got serious when high school started.”
Unlike Ben and Bella, who also golfs because of her dad, Green has only played golf for 2 1/2 years.
“My dad told me that I had to do a sport in high school, and so he was like, ‘I think you should try golf, Meg,’” Green said. “So, one day, he just brought me out to the course and we just started playing and I really liked it, so we kept doing it.”
Ben, Bella and Green will all golf through the Kansas City Junior Golf Association this summer, playing in multiple tournaments across Kansas City. Bella golfed with the Junior Team Golf Association in past summers, playing nine-hole tournaments. Ben and Green have also golfed in the KCJGA before.
Green said she usually finishes between fifth and seventh in her summer tournaments, which include around 30 girls. For her, golfing outside of school provides more social opportunities than golfing on a high school team.
“It’s actually just a really great opportunity to meet new people,” Green said. “It’s not just typical people that you’d play with if you were [at] school … I also just like that it’s just more competition.”
Bella has previously won tournaments in the JTGA, but has yet to compete in the KCJGA until this summer. Out-of-school golf is more competitive than school golf to her because of the players’ experience.
“It’s a little bit less serious in high school because, if you’re playing on a summer league, that’s kind of all people that have been playing for a long time and they’re really good,” Bella said. “And then, high school teams, some people are less experienced in playing.”
All three want to continue to golf through college. Ben will play golf at Iowa Western Community College in the fall, and will play a qualifier for the U.S. Open in the future.
“I’m just focusing on keeping my goals short term and eventually leading on to bigger things,” Ben said. “My overall goal is to be the best.”